Hurricane Patricia is now the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, with maximum sustained wind speeds reaching 325 kilometers per hour (200 miles per hour), the National Hurricane Center reports.
The monster storm bests the record peak sustained winds of 315 kilometers per hour (195 miles per hour) set by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The ongoing El Niño, one of the strongest on record, is partially responsible for intense storm seasons throughout the northern Pacific Ocean and may fuel Patricia’s winds.
While Hurricane Patricia tops wind speed records, minimum atmospheric pressure is the global standard for intensity rankings. By atmospheric pressure, Hurricane Patricia ranks among the eight strongest, with Typhoon Tip maintaining the top spot since 1979.
Patricia, a Category 5 storm, is heading for a “potentially catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico later today,” the hurricane center warns.