When Seattle resident Kara Mattaini and her friends heard a storm was headed to where they were vacationing, in Sayulita, near Puerto Vallarta, the news at first raised no alarms.
“We spoke to the hotel staff in Sayulita, plus shopkeeper, bike/surf rental people, anyone who we could; and everyone downplayed it. ‘Just a storm, surfers are excited, etc.,'” she told the Seattle Globalist via Facebook before the storm made landfall, which was expected by Friday afternoon or evening.
However, the storm has picked up, and meteorologists say that Hurricane Patricia could be one of the strongest storms recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
“We are watching the Seahawks game at a bar when someone in our group saw a weather update flash across the TV screen, and things got kind of serious,” Mattaini wrote.
She, her husband Matthew Roach and five of their friends are waiting out Hurricane Patricia in a Holiday Inn Express near the Puerto Vallarta Airport, which closed Friday morning. According to the Los Angeles Times, 31 flights out of Puerto Vallarta were canceled.
Thousands of tourists in the resort towns were evacuated, the L.A. Times reported. Because they all have kids, Mattaini, Roach and their friends rescheduled their Saturday flight out of Mexico to Friday morning, but they got stuck when the airport was unexpectedly shut down before noon.
“We were turned away by the military police saying ‘airport closed’ at 7 a.m., even though we had a confirmed flight. It was an intense scene at the airport,” she said.
Luckily, the group had already booked a room at a nearby hotel, which she says is sturdy and newer construction.
“We have lots of food and water. We feel safe and have a flight booked for Sunday,” she said. “I am worried about all the folks who may not be as fortunate as us. It’s is a huge storm.”
“The Mexican officials and staff at the hotel have been very professional and keeping up as the situation changes,” she added. “Time will tell but they have my respect.”