OCT 23, 2015 8:43 PM PDT

3 Factors That Made Hurricane Patricia a Monstrous Storm

WRITTEN BY: Akshay Masand
A satellite image showing Hurricane Paricia moving over Mexico's Pacific Coast.

Hurricane Patricia, which is proving to be one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, appears to be making its way to Mexico’s central Pacific Coast. Just two days ago, this modest hurricane wasn’t summing up to be an issue but since then, it has transformed into a Category 5 storm.

The officials have declared a state of emergency and have been handing out sandbags in preparation for flooding as steady rain began to fall in the area around the port of Manzanillo ahead of an expected landfall. The Mexican government has even went as far as scrambling to evacuate thousands of people in the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco.

Not only has Hurricane Patricia been recorded as the move powerful hurricane but also as one of the fastest growing on record. Roughly 24 hours ago, the winds were clocking in at around 130 mph. More recently, the winds have sped up to 200 mph, which are comparable to the strongest tornadoes.
According to meteorologist, Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground:

The wind damage is going to be something extraordinary. We’re talking like a high end EF4, low end EF5 tornado that’s 15 miles wide hitting the coast, if it stays at this strength.

So how exactly does a hurricane that was labeled as “moderate” turn into the monster that is turning out to be? There are three primary factors at play here:

The Temperature of the Oceans Water

The water in the Eastern Pacific is currently sitting at more than 30 degrees celcius. This number is roughly one degree higher than what is normally seen at this time of the year. Though that doesn’t sound alarming at first, even a difference of 1-2 degrees can help to pump up the energy of a hurricane.

The Atmospheric Winds

Generally speaking, the speed of atmospheric winds, which are classified as wind that isn’t part of a hurricane, moves across the upper reaches of the storm formation in a slow manner. If the wind there is high, it can help to divert the hurricane or alternatively, shear it apart. Unfortunately, for the last few days, the winds along the coast of Mexico have been unusually calm, which in this case, ended up helping the hurricane get stronger.

The Humidity

A hurricane needs moist air to help feed it and grow stronger. The environment on Mexico’s coast, which was sitting at roughly 80% humidity, played a strong role in helping the hurricane gain momentum.
These three factors combined have played the perfect role to help build a hurricane that the Mexican National Weather Service appears to be calling “the most dangerous storm in history.”

As the saying usually goes, a picture says a thousand words. In this case, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted photos of Hurricane Patricia from outer space, which you can see below:
 
A picture of Hurricane Patricia seen from the Inernational Space Station on Oct. 23, 2015.

You can also watch footage of Hurricane Patricia from the International Space Stations point of view:
 

Source: LA Times, Scientific American, Twitter (Scott Kelly)
About the Author
BS in Biomedical Engineering
As an experienced marketer who has learned the ropes from the ground up, I now lead the marketing for LabRoots and am constantly looking for new ways to reach a wider audience!
You May Also Like
OCT 28, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Researchers Examine Coral Chemical Compounds on Reef Health Effects
OCT 28, 2022
Researchers Examine Coral Chemical Compounds on Reef Health Effects
In a recent study published in ISME Communications, a team of researchers led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutio ...
NOV 03, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
A new hybrid songbird from Pennsylvania
NOV 03, 2022
A new hybrid songbird from Pennsylvania
Researchers in Pennsylvania discover a new-to-science hybrid songbird species
NOV 10, 2022
Technology
Potholes Might Say Bye-Bye Thanks to New Machine-Learning Technique
NOV 10, 2022
Potholes Might Say Bye-Bye Thanks to New Machine-Learning Technique
In a recent study published in Engineering Structures, a team of researchers from the University of Technology Sydney ha ...
NOV 16, 2022
Earth & The Environment
New Details About Earth's First Mass Extinction Unveiled by Geobiologists
NOV 16, 2022
New Details About Earth's First Mass Extinction Unveiled by Geobiologists
In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers led by Virgini ...
NOV 17, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Most Common Side Effects from Consuming Too Much Weed
NOV 17, 2022
Most Common Side Effects from Consuming Too Much Weed
What happens when you ingest too much THC? Whether you smoke, vape, or consume edibles, here's what to expect
DEC 06, 2022
Plants & Animals
Locating Genes to Help Fruit Survive Droughts
DEC 06, 2022
Locating Genes to Help Fruit Survive Droughts
As climate change becomes more prominent in our world, people and plants alike are starting to feel the effects of a cha ...
Loading Comments...