After swiftly intensifying before landfall, Hurricane Lidia slammed into the Pacific Coast of west-central Mexico as a category 4 storm on October 10, 2023.
This image, acquired by the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) sensor on the NOAA-20 satellite, shows Lidia at 2:40 p.m. local time (20:40 Universal Time), several hours before landfall. Around that time, Lidia was centered 185 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of Puerto Vallarta and carried sustained winds of 205 kilometers (125 miles) per hour—a category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
By the evening of October 10, Lidia made landfall southwest of Puerto Vallarta with sustained winds measuring 220 kilometers (140 miles) per hour. The storm downed power lines and trees and blocked roads with debris, according to news reports. Lidia weakened as it moved toward the country’s mountainous interior, but it continued to deliver widespread heavy rain, which officials warned could lead to flooding and mudslides.
Meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson reported that Lidia tied as the third-strongest Pacific hurricane on record to make landfall in Mexico. But it gathered that strength quickly. On the afternoon of October 9, Lidia was still a tropical storm spinning over the Pacific Ocean. Within the 24 hours leading up to landfall, it grew in strength by 105 miles (65 miles) per hour—a rate that Masters and Henson called “very rare.” The National Hurricane Center cited conditions ideal for rapid intensification including very warm sea surface temperatures and favorable upper-level winds.
The eastern Pacific hurricane season officially runs from May 15 through November 30, peaking in July through September. NOAA’s seasonal outlook for the eastern Pacific hurricane season indicated that an above average season was likely in 2023 based on climate factors including the return of El Niño.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Wanmei Liang, using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE, GIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). Story by Kathryn Hansen.