MEXICO CITY – Hurricane Rick grew Saturday into the strongest storm in the eastern North Pacific Ocean in more than a decade.
The extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane had sustained winds of 180 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported, though it said Rick was likely to lose some of that punch before hitting land.
The hurricane was projected to stay well off the Mexican coast for several days before bending east over cooler waters and hitting the Baja California Peninsula as a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane sometime Wednesday.
Authorities in the resort city of Acapulco closed the port to small craft after Rick kicked up heavy waves and gusts of wind.
Acapulco’s Civil Protection Department had warned that rains from the outer bands of the storm could cause landslides and flooding in the resort city, but no such effects were reported.
Rick is the second-strongest hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 1966, when experts began keeping reliable records, said Hurricane Center meteorologist Hugh Cobb.
The strongest was Hurricane Linda, which generated maximum winds of 185 mph in September 1997.
“Rick is probably going to go into the record books as one of the most rapidly intensifying hurricanes,” Cobb said.