Kelowna tourists caught in path of worst hurricane in history

A group of Kelowna tourists had to evacuate their condo to escape Hurricane Patricia, which is predicted to make landfall near them later this afternoon.
Image Credit: Contributed

KELOWNA - A small group of tourists from Kelowna who are vacationing in Nuevo Vallarta are fleeing to higher ground to escape the strongest hurricane ever recorded.

Rod Robinson, owner of Bogie and Bacall Hair Salon in Orchard Park Mall, is travelling with his wife Donna and friends Denny and Patty Pirot, who are also from Kelowna.

With winds of over 200 miles per hour at the centre of the storm and torrential rains expected, Hurricane Patricia is bearing down on the vacation city of Puerto Vallarta. The Robinsons were staying a short distance away in Nuevo Vallarta, but decided to pack up and head for higher ground this morning.

Hurricane Patricia is being called the worst in recorded history, stronger even than Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which killed more than 6,000 people in 2013, according to the World Meteorological Organization. A state of emergency has been declared in three Mexican states, including Jalisco where the Robinson’s were staying. The Puerto Vallarta Airport is closed as are all schools and most businesses.

“Everybody who lives in our area had to get out and either go to a university or another area they had set up,” Robinson says. “We knew someone who lived 20 miles from the water so we decided to go there and he got us a hotel.”

After braving the traffic of other fleeing tourists and locals, the Robinson party got in line to wait for a chance to buy groceries and get gas.

“Every gas station is lined up and everybody is going to the store to get water and all the stuff you need,” he says.

Robinson says the weather so far isn’t too bad but Patricia is expected to make landfall in that area later today, and bring with it massive amounts of rain that could cause flash flooding, mudslides and winds strong enough to lift a plane into the air.

“It’s low clouds and drizzle right now but if you look towards the mountains it looks okay. At our location we have the canal on one side and the fear is that might rise and go up into where the condo is,” he says. “We’re just not sure how the sea is going to react so we wanted to be away from the ocean.”

The Robinsons have two kids living in Kelowna. Tracy Robinson Guido says she’s worried for her parents’ safety but certain they will do what they need to do to keep themselves safe.

“This morning I was feeling pretty scared and upset,” she says. “I feel better that I've spoken to them and I know where they're staying. I'm hoping for the best and trying to stay positive that the news is just a worst case scenario and everyone will be alright.”

Robinson says they feel safe and will be able to stay in contact with their friends and family in Kelowna.

“We’re on the third floor of the hotel and there’s no water around where we are,” he says. “I think we’ll all be safe, we’re far enough away and we’ll just ride it out and hopefully head back tomorrow.”

For a list of webcams set up in the City of Puerto Vallarta visit this website

A map of Hurricane Patricia from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts landfall sometime Friday afternoon or evening.
A map of Hurricane Patricia from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts landfall sometime Friday afternoon or evening.
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To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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