CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Hurricane Patricia officially hit maximum sustained winds of 200mph earlier on Friday, and reached a central minimum pressure of 879mb both of which have never occurred in recorded history.
The storm is moving over the Mexican mainland Friday evening and will continue to weaken which is not to say things are getting better. While winds will slowly subside, the damaging wind field will actually spread out and cover a larger region.
In addition, rainfall amounts of up to 20" will cause widespread flash flooding and mudslides. Eventually that rain will arrive in the Gulf Coast states and the Carolinas next week.
On average the Saffir-Simpson scale increases 20mph from one category to the next.
Category 1: 74mph – 95mph
Category 2: 96mph – 110mph
Category 3: 111mph – 129mph
Category 3: 130mph – 156mph
Category 5: 157mph or higher
If you continued along these lines, you could make the case that Hurricane Patricia was a Category 7 Hurricane earlier today with maximum sustained winds of 200mph.
As said, Patricia broke the record for strongest hurricane (lowest pressure) in recorded history for the western hemisphere.
Previous record holder was Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which also happens to be the last major hurricane to make landfall in the United States.
That too is an ongoing all-time record for the longest period of time ever recorded between major-hurricane landfalls in the U.S. Patricia will not bring that record to an end since it made landfall in Mexico.