Record-Setting, Category 5 Hurricane Patricia Nears 'Potentially Catastrophic' Landfall in Mexico

The National Weather Service predicts Hurricane Patricia will reach winds of as high as 200 miles per hour. NOAA

Updated | Hurricane Patricia is expected to make landfall on Friday afternoon in southwest Mexico, bringing "potentially catastrophic" damage to the country, the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

Described as "the strongest eastern North Pacific hurricane on record," Patricia has maximum sustained winds of 200 miles per hour and could result in as much as 20 inches of rain.

As the hurricane moves closer toward land, it has not changed notably in strength. The hurricane is moving at a rate of 12 miles per hour. When the storm hits land, it is expected to move more quickly through Mexico.

Hurricane Patricia strongest on record over eastern North Pacific - 200 mph winds. #patricia

— NHC Eastern Pacific (@NHC_Pacific) October 23, 2015

A hurricane warning is in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo and east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. A state of emergency has been declared in areas expected to be hit by the storm. "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the weather agency added.

.@NASANPP VIIRS imagery of #Patricia. Landfall as a Catagory 5 storm expected within 12hrs.

— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia is a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes the aftermath of a Category 5: "A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

Patricia has already caused swells and rip tide conditions that make the water dangerous.

The worst of Patricia's winds will hit Mexico on Friday afternoon and into the evening. Damage reports are already coming in:

Damage reports starting to come out of Manzanillo as #Patricia approaches. Photo by Brenda:"el centro de manzanillo"

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 23, 2015

Parts of Mexico could get 20 inches of rain, and much of the rest of the country will face 8 to 12 inches. Heavy rain can cause dangerous flash flooding, coastal flooding and mud slides.

The potential for heavy rain extends into parts of the United States, including Texas, which has faced serious droughts. Storms are also expected in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Moisture & energy from #Patricia could enhance hvy rain threat from TX to AR; up to 1 FOOT+:

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 23, 2015

As a result of Hurricane Patricia, 10 million people are facing a flash flood watch.

In Focus

Photos: Category 5 Hurricane Patricia Looms Over Mexico

Power outages and the destruction of homes is expected. 
Launch Slideshow 10 PHOTOS

This story has been updated to include new information about the hurricane.