Tourists Travel to Mexico as Hurricane Patricia Lands

Tourists leaving San Diego for Mexico on Friday were concerned about Hurricane Patricia, a monster Category 5 storm approaching Mexico.

Brian Combs and his family, including his four-year-old daughter, were leaving San Diego on Disney Cruises Friday.

Disney Wonder will make stops along the Mexico coast as part of its 14-night Panama Canal cruise. The ship’s itinerary includes Cabo San Lucas on Sunday with a stop in Puerto Vallarta on Monday.

“The storm should be well inland by then,” Combs said. “Question is whether Puerto Vallarta will be there.”

Patricia first surfaced as a tropical storm Tuesday and then grew into a hurricane in just over a day. By Friday it was the most powerful hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere, with maximum sustained winds near 200 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Disney Cruises said they have made no changes to their itinerary.

The airport in Puerto Vallarta was closed Friday to all flights in or out, according to the Associated Press. Airports in Manzanillo in Colima state and Tepic in Nayarit were also closed.

An Alaska Airlines flight to San Diego from the Mexican resort town scheduled for Friday afternoon was canceled, a spokesperson for the airline told NBC 7. The flight was scheduled to have roughly 135 passengers.

Published reports say there are lines formed at a bus station in Puerto Vallarta as tourists and residents like try to get to Guadalajara and other inland destinations.

All passengers will be allowed to reschedule or cancel their flights for free, according to Alaska Airlines.

In Puerto Vallarta, residents reinforced homes with sandbags and shop windows with boards and tape, and hotels rolled up beachfront restaurants.

The lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Puerto Vallarta was bustling Friday morning, with a long line of people forming to check out. More than 900 guests had rooms at the hotel the previous evening, but many wanted to get out of town before the storm arrived.

Sandra Rojas and her husband, a veterinarian from San Jose, Costa Rica, were among those trying to leave. After loading their car, they were going to drive to Guadalajara to plan their next move.

"The hotel is saying that nothing is going to happen," Rojas said. "But it's nature. Anything can happen."

Mexican officials declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states, and schools were closed.

According to the 2010 census, there were more than 7.3 million inhabitants in Jalisco state and more than 255,000 in Puerto Vallarta municipality. There were more than 650,000 in Colima state, and more than 161,000 in Manzanillo.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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