Posted on 10/26/2015

Hurricane Patricia slammed the Pacific coastline of Mexico on Friday night, touching down just 55 miles northwest of Manzanillo and striking high-end resorts and coastal villages with winds measuring 165 mph.

Strongest storm Prior to making landfall, the storm rapidly intensified to become the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the eastern north Pacific and Atlantic basins. It was also the fastest intensifying hurricane ever recorded in the western hemisphere surpassing Wilma in 2005. On Friday afternoon, the system churned offshore with sustained winds up to 325 km/h, shattering previous records to become the strongest hurricane recorded in the Western Hemisphere, which includes the devastating Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

"This is the type of hurricane you get out of the way of," says Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese. "In some instances, it is safe to hunker down in your home and ride out a hurricane. That is not the case with Patricia. Even some trained storm hunters are avoiding this system because it is simply too dangerous." Quickly back to normal

But by late Saturday the storm was greatly diminished and less than 24 hours after making landfall, the wind speeds dropped from 325 km/h to 48 km/h as it moved towards Texas. Despite everything, by Saturday afternoon the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board advised that things had returned to normal at all hotels. The Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) and cruise port were open and operating at 100 percent capacity. “Puerto Vallarta weather is back to its typical clear skies and sunshine.” Said the advisory.

Jalisco State Authorities and Puerto Vallarta hotels started to transfer tourists and locals back to Puerto Vallarta from the shelters where they had been taken; when authorities determined Friday night that Hurricane Patricia would not be touching the city and was no longer a threat. There were no fatalities, and no major damage, or injuries reported as of Saturday night, according to Roberto Lopez Lara, interior secretary for the state of Jalisco, an almost unbelievable situation given that this was the strongest storm ever recorded. Cleanup has now begun in the country after a stormy beginning of the weekend for parts of the country.

Gustavo Rivas-Solis, spokesman for Puerto Vallarta Tourism, told Yahoo Travel, “We were lucky, but we were prepared. We had practiced evacuation drills before and moved 4,000 tourists to shelter in one day.” Canadians safe On Saturday afternoon Sunwing confirmed that both their delayed northbound services had departed from Puerto Vallarta. Flight WG560 destined for Calgary and Edmonton took off at 12pm local time and was expected to arrive in Calgary at 3.55 pm local time; reaching Edmonton at 5.20pm. Flight WG528 destined for Vancouver departed from Puerto Vallarta at 11.48 am local time was expected to arrive in Vancouver at 2.55pm local time.

Sunwing said it continued to monitor the situation closely, but could confirm that Hurricane Patricia had now passed through the area.

“Initial reports received from our local representatives indicate that while there was heavy rain and high winds, there was minimal disruption to the area and the resort does not appear to have suffered any damage. Our representatives are continuing to carry out further inspections to complete a full assessment. At this current time, we do not anticipate any further services destined for Puerto Vallarta will be re-routed.”

Andrew Dawson, Sunwing Travel Group COO told us on Sunday that he was very relieved that Patricia had passed with minimal incident and that generally this year has seen another quieter hurricane season. “We are grateful to our teams in Canada and at the airline for organising and coordinating last minute changes that allowed us to be flexible in our response,” said Dawson, “and for the understanding and positive responses from our travellers.” “I especially want to thank the destination teams, who all have homes families and personal priorities, for their unfaltering service to our passengers, including staying with them in some of the inland shelters. “This is true service and commitment, and our guests in Puerto Vallarta were comforted to know they had people from the Sunwing team on the ground looking out for them.‎” Dawson noted that at times such as these the benefits to passengers of using a reputable tour operator, as opposed to an OTA, or going it alone, really make the difference. He said not just Sunwing but competitors Transat, Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations, have people on the ground ready and able to help, “rather than being a voice at the end of an 800 number.”