Why did Hurricane Patricia just fizzle out?

What started as a record-breaking Category 5 storm quickly weakened once it reached Mexican coastline.

Presidency of Mexico/Reuters
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto leads a meeting with members of the government as a satellite image of Hurricane Patricia is displayed on a screen in Mexico City, Oct. 23, 2015.

Mexico was preparing for the worst as hurricane Patricia made landfall on Friday, but what started as a Category 5 storm – the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, experts were saying – quickly fizzled into a tropical storm once it reached Mexican coastline.

"There are some mountains that served as a barrier, and that at the end of the day is what prevented the winds from having to come through here," said Enrique de la Madrid, Mexico's Secretary of Tourism.

No fatalities have been recorded, but the coastline where hurricane Patricia came ashore has been hard-hit by flooding, mudslides, and downed trees. As of Saturday, all storm watches and coastal warnings have been called off, reports CNN.

“Rapid weakening is expected to continue,” reports the National Weather Service, adding that while the hurricane could dissipate by Saturday evening, water levels would remain high throughout the day.

The storm took its hardest hit against Mexico’s economy, as it forced banks, airports, and tourist resorts to close.

Mexicans are also concerned about the effect the storm will have on their countrymen, many of whom in flimsy coastal homes that don’t provide adequate protection from high winds.

Aristóteles Sandoval, governor of the Mexican state of Jalisco, told the New York Times that in his state, at least, there had been no "irreparable damages" recorded so far, only "severe infrastructure damages" like flooded highways and damaged hotels and homes, that he believed could be fully repaired.

"This gives us hope that we can move forward," he told the Times, "but we still need to be alert."

In a taped address on Friday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said, "The first reports confirm that the damage has been less than that corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude, [but] we cannot let our guard down."

On Twitter, he expressed his gratitude for the words of support and encouragement from Latin American nations and the United States regarding the hurricane.

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