Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nature's Wrath

Yesterday Hurricane Patricia slammed into Mexico's Pacific coast between the cities of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.  Patricia, which had rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 Hurricane, at one point had winds of up to 200 miles per hour, making it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.  Fortunately landfall was along a less populated stretch of coastline, and the winds had diminished somewhat.  However, with winds of 165 miles per hour, it was still a potentially deadly Category 5 storm.  At this point there are no reports of casualties, but I have to wonder how long it will be before we have the full report of deaths and damage from more remote areas of the country.  The storm weakened as it hit the mountains, but there was still the danger of flash floods and mudslides.  As Patricia crosses the border into Texas there is the threat of serious flooding there.  One can only hope that when the full extent of the storm's effects are known, the reports of casualties will remain very low.  This could have been a natural disaster rivaling Mexico City's 1985 earthquake, but for now it seems that Mexico might have dodged a bullet.

(image taken from the web)

In 1965, when I was in junior high school, we were living near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and experienced Hurricane Betsy.  The storm was the most costly that the state had experienced up to that point.  It seemed that Betsy's northward track was going to miss Florida all together.  But then it took an extreme change of course and headed southwest toward Florida.  For me, a thirteen year old who had never experienced anything like that, it was an exciting adventure.  And classes, of course, had been cancelled.  I remember the next-door neighbor coming over to help us with the hurricane shutters.  All of the windows had metal awnings which could be lowered and screwed into the wall, covering the windows.  We never lost electricity.  We sat in the house, unable to see outside, watching old movies that were broadcast continually on the TV station.  (This was long before the Weather Channel and its constant coverage.)  When it was over, there was a lot of standing water and debris all over, but our neighborhood suffered no major damage.  However, five people in Florida died, and there was $139 million worth of damage.

Of course, here in Ohio, we don't have to worry about hurricanes.  We did, however, experience the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Gusts of 68 miles per hour were reported in the Cleveland area.  I remember lying awake in bed that night, listening to the wind howling, and hoping that the trees around my house would not topple.  The next morning, other than a lot of small branches strewn all over, there was no damage in the neighborhood.  When I went out to run some errands, though, I saw numerous trees that had been uprooted, and at least one which had fallen on a house.  I was lucky.

I am hoping against hope that the people in Mexico have also "lucked out".


  1. I posted lots of photos on Facebook of Manzanillo, La Manzanilla (where the eye crossed), Melaque and Barra de Navidad. Most of the damage seen is downed trees, palapas taken off rudimentary structures and water damage inside homes. The Mexican Red Cross, the military and volunteers did a GREAT job of evacuating people, getting them to shelters and having supplies ready to give families the day AFTER the storm. I AM greatly impressed with the efficiency and preparedness.

    1. I read an article today that gave some more information, and there was no mention of any deaths from the storm. And Alejandro has not heard of any either from news reports down there. That is marvelous news. Glad to hear that relief efforts are going well too.