NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2015, 5:21 AM
Hurricane Patricia pummeled the mountains of western Mexico with rain that officials warned could lead to deadly floods and mudslides even as it lost its record-level strength early Saturday.
The hurricane made landfall Friday as a Category 5 storm after peaking as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. Patricia weakened to a Category 1 with maximum winds of 75 m.p.h. Saturday and the hurricane was expected to dissipate into a tropical storm later in the day.
People walk under the rain during the arrival of Hurricane Patricia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Friday. The tourist hotspot avoided a direct hit, officials said.
The resort city of Puerto Vallarta and the port city of Manzanillo averted any direct hits, and there were no reports of deaths or major damage overnight. But footage from Mexico’s Pacific coast showed cars and buses swept up in floods, streams of water inundating streets and fallen trees and lampposts.
Storm clouds from Hurricane Patricia appeared over Mexico’s western mountains in the state of Mexico as the hurricane made landfall Friday.
“The first reports confirm that the damage has been less than those expected from a hurricane of this magnitude,” President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a taped video statement late Friday. But, he added, “We cannot yet let our guard down.”
The very heavy rains are likely to cause life-threatening floods and mudslides in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tourists who fled Puerto Vallarta eat in a hotel hallway in Guadalajara on Friday.
Tropical moisture from Patricia’s remnants could also add to the torrential downpours that were already hitting Texas Friday, forecasters said. Officials placed Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio under a flash flood watch until Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Yet an estimated tens of thousands of American citizens thought to be in the hurricane’s path breathed sighs of relief.
Children are shown in a shelter at the University of Puerto Vallarta on Friday.
Brandie Galle of Grants Pass, Ore., joined other Hard Rock Hotel guests in a boarded-up ballroom to wait out the storm in Puerto Vallarta but wound up eating in a hotel restaurant two hours after landfall, she said.
Heavy rain caused flooding Friday in Dallas, where a Dallas Fire Rescue responder made his way to a stalled vehicle.
“They said it looked like the storm had hit below us,” Galle said. “Everyone is starting to perk up a little bit but still kind of on edge waiting to see what’s going to happen with the storm.”
A Dallas-area bicycle and walking path was flooded by White Rock Lake after heavy rainfall on Friday. Officials placed the area under a flash flood watch until Sunday morning.
Fellow tourist Tom Sokol, who was visiting from suburban Detroit, hunkered down in a shelter at a university after his family’s flight home was cancelled Friday. They returned to their hotel later that night.
“It was pretty stressful for a while,” Sokol said. “I felt guilty for taking my kids here.”
Patricia’s power before it made landfall compared with that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left over 7,300 people dead or missing in the Philippines in 2013. On Friday, figures from the Hurricane Center show Patricia had been moving towards Mexico with a central pressure of 880 millibars and maximum gales of 200 mph.
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With NEWS WIRE REPORTS