Officials have declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
By late Thursday, Patricia's maximum sustained winds had increased to 160 mph— a Category 5 storm, the highest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to quantify a hurricane's wind strength.
U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Patricia was expected to bring rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches in some locations.
Patricia was expected to reach land Friday afternoon or evening.
“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.
It is the latest in a series of hurricanes this season possibly linked to to a strengthening El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific region.
The governor of Colima ordered schools closed on Friday, when the storm was forecast to make landfall as a still-deadly Category 4 storm.
The Hurricane Center warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods.
Rain pounded Manzanillo late Thursday while people took last-minute measures ahead of Patricia, which quickly grew from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane, leaving authorities scrambling to make people safe.
At a Wal-Mart in Manzanillo, shoppers filled carts with non-perishables as a steady rain fell outside.
In Puerto Vallarta, restaurants and stores taped or boarded-up windows, and residents raced to stores for last-minute purchases ahead of the storm.
Hurricane Catherine is the latest of the season. In August, three major hurricanes formed in the Pacific Ocean simultaneously — an occurrence that has never before been recorded, experts said.
Some experts linked the unusual weather event to the strengthening El Niño weather pattern being observed in the Pacific. This year’s El Niño could be among the strongest in the historical record, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
Experts have linked warmer water temperatures from El Niño as well as climate change to stronger storms — and even an increased number of hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific.
El Niño is a cyclical weather pattern that takes place in the tropical region of the Pacific Ocean and consists of higher-than-normal water temperatures in the central and eastern basins.
Al Jazeera with The Associated Press