As Northeast Missouri residents checked their rain gauges for the first time in over a month on Friday, people in southwestern Mexico were bracing for Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever in the Western Hemisphere.

As Northeast Missouri residents checked their rain gauges for the first time in over a month on Friday, people in southwestern Mexico were bracing for Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever in the Western Hemisphere.

Not unlike the tropical storms that periodically hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, this storm from the eastern Pacific could eventually bring precipitation into the Midwest, including Northeast Missouri, which the U.S. Drought Monitor has identified as being abnormal dry in recent weeks.

“That’s the issue we’re going to have to wait and see,” said Jim Kramper of the National Weather Service’s St. Louis office. “This one they’re forecasting across Mexico and into eastern Texas. From there it’s a little bit of a question. Will it stay more along the Gulf Coast or start moving more northeast toward the Midwest? Hopefully in another couple of days the (computer) models will have a better hand on it and we’ll have a better picture on what we might see.”

At this point, however, Kramper believes the remnants of the Category 5 storm will bring some precipitation into Northeast Missouri.

“The way it looks now I wouldn’t expect a deluge from it, but I think we’ll probably see some rain that will somewhat be a result of it. It’s really hard to say. It all depends on how far north whatever is left of it goes,” he said, pointing at Tuesday night and Wednesday as being the time line when Patricia’s remaining moisture reaches the region.

A major player in how much, if any, of Patricia’s remaining moisture pushes north will be a storm system the National Weather Service is anticipating around the same time.

“It’s just a matter of how quickly the next system moves in,” said Kramper. “If it moves in very fast it will keep it further south. If it slows down a little bit it may allow it to move further north. The speed of the next system will be a big factor in what exactly ends up from this.”

According to a story by The Associated Press, Patricia formed suddenly Tuesday evening as a tropical storm, turned into a hurricane just over a day later and just kept growing in strength, catching many off guard. 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.

Forecasters were calling for a “potentially catastrophic landfall” to occur in Mexico on Friday.

Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said Patricia poses problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will likely combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com