2 thoughts on “The Category 5 Hurricane in Acapulco

  1. Nothing mysterious here. Here is a Wikipedia entry telling the story of the 1959 hurricane to hit Mexico in approximately the same location as Otis.


    The 1959 Mexico hurricane was the deadliest Pacific hurricane on record. First observed south of Mexico on October 23, the cyclone tracked northwestward. It intensified into a Category 3 hurricane on October 25 and reached Category 4 intensity on the following day. After turning toward the northeast, the hurricane made landfall in Mexico near Manzanillo, Colima, at peak intensity. The system continued on that trajectory before dissipating on the next day.

    Impact from the hurricane was severe and widespread. Initially forecast to remain offshore, the system curved northeast and moved ashore, becoming one of Mexico’s worst natural disasters at the time. Up to 150 boats were submerged. Countless homes in Colima and Jalisco were damaged or destroyed, large portions of the states were inaccessible by flash flooding, and hundreds of residents were stranded. All coconut plantations were blown down during the storm, leaving thousands without work and instating fear that it would take the economy years to recover. Torrential rainfall across mountain terrain contributed to numerous mudslides that caused hundreds of fatalities. In the aftermath of the cyclone, convoys delivering aid were hindered by the destruction. Residents were vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease. Overall, the hurricane inflicted at least $280 million (1959 USD) in damage.

    Thousands of people were unprepared for the storm. Thus, the system was dubbed “a sneak hurricane”. After passing well offshore from Acapulco, it was forecast to head out to sea. Instead, it recurved eastward and made landfall.

    The hurricane had devastating effects on the places it hit. It killed at least 1,000 people directly, and a total of 1,800 people. At that time, it was Mexico’s worst natural disaster in recent times. Most of the destruction was in Colima and Jalisco. A preliminary estimate of property damage was $280 million (1959 USD).

    The storm sank three merchant ships, and two other vessels. On one ship, the Sinaloa, 21 of 38 hands went down. On another, the El Caribe, all hands were lost. As many as 150 total boats were sunk.

    A quarter of the homes in Cihuatlán, Jalisco, were totally destroyed, leaving many homeless. In Manzanillo, Colima, 40 percent of all homes were destroyed, and four ships in the harbor were sunk. Large portions of Colima and Jalisco were isolated by flooding. Hundreds of people were stranded. Minatitlán, Colima, suffered especially, as 800 people out of its population of 1000 were dead or missing, according to a message sent to President Adolfo López Mateos. In Colima, all coconut plantations were blown down and thousands of people were left out of work. That state’s economy was damaged enough that officials thought it would take years to recover.

    The hurricane also dumped heavy rains along its path. This water-logged the hills near Minatitlán, and contributed to huge mudslide late on October 29 that claimed 800 victims. The slide uncovered hundreds of venomous scorpions and snakes, which killed tens more people in the aftermath. Additional hordes of scorpions were driven from their nests when the adobe walls crumbled away. Governor of Colima Rodolfo Chávez Carrillo and his wife issued a plea for venom inoculations afterwards. In some places, the mud was 10 feet (3.0 m) deep. Water supplies were badly polluted, both by debris and dead bodies.

    Included in this post is a history of :

    Known Pacific hurricanes that have killed at least 100 people

    Hurricane Season Fatalities
    “Mexico” 1959 1,800
    Paul 1982 1,625
    Liza 1976 1,263
    Tara 1961 436
    Aletta 1982 308
    Pauline 1997 230–400
    Agatha 2010 204
    Manuel 2013 169
    Tico 1983 141
    Ismael 1995 116
    “Lower Calif1931 110
    “Mazatlán”1943 100
    Lidia 1981 100

    Then there was Hurricane Madeline (1976)


    And Hurricane Patricia ( 2015 )


    As I said nothing here that appears sinister. Maybe I am wrong. Weather is a tricky business.

    1. It is interesting, Fred, that prior to 2023 we hardly ever heard about west coast hurricanes or those that affect Mexico. Your recounting suggests there have been quite a number, although it is unclear how many reached Category 5. Thanks for providing more context.

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