One of the strongest storms ever recorded has brought rains, surging seas and cyclonic winds to the west coast of Mexico. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.
The Category 5 storm came ashore in southwestern Mexico on Friday evening, local time. It had weakened before hitting the coast but forecasters said it still had the potential to do "catastrophic" damage.
Hurricane Patricia made landfall close to the town of Cuixmala, near the city of Manzanillo. The US National Hurricane center in Miami said winds of 325 kilometers per hour (200mph) were recorded before it reached land, carrying sustained winds of 270 kph.
Some flooding and landslides were reported but there were no reports of fatalities or major damage as the storm moved inland over mountain areas after nightfall. Images from the coast showed trees which had fallen and streets flooded.
The path of the hurricane is over sparsely populated mountainous regions where the danger will be of landslides and flash floods.
The storm was expected to weaken as it passed over the mountains on Saturday but was still expected to bring heavy rain.
Ahead of the hurricane's arrival, residents and tourists had taken shelter and reinforced homes and buildings against the winds and rain.
Patricia formed suddenly on Tuesday as a tropical storm before quickly strengthening to a hurricane. By Friday it had become the most powerful hurricane on record in the Western hemisphere with a central pressure of 880 millibars. Patricia broke the record of 882 millibars set by Hurricane Wilma which hit the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico, Cuba and the US state of Florida almost ten years ago.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a radio interview "One thing we're certain of is that we're facing a hurricane of a scale we've never ever seen."
Thousands of people had been evacuated from coastal resorts and locations by the time the hurricane made landfall. Hundreds of flights had been canceled and residents were told to find shelter.
Patricia is expected to dump 200 to 300 millimeters of rain over the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero.
Strong winds and torrential rain associated with the hurricane have affected Texas where the Formula One Grand Prix is due to be held on Sunday. Mexico is to hold the next round of the competition next weekend.
jm/bw (AP, Reuters, AFP)