Canadian flights from Mexico back to normal after Hurricane Patricia delays

Flights between Canada and resort communities in southwest Mexico were to resume on Sunday, two days after Hurricane Patricia made landfall and stranded tourists, before it weakened to become a tropical depression.

With heavy rain in parts of Mexico, warnings had been issued about landslides, flooding

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      Flights between Canada and resort communities in southwest Mexico were to resume on Sunday, two days after Hurricane Patricia made landfall and stranded tourists, before it weakened to become a tropical depression.

      Patricia closed Puerto Vallarta's airport, forcing WestJet to cancel one flight on Friday and five on Saturday.

      The airline says it will operate six flights to Puerto Vallarta on Sunday and 700 passengers have been placed on those flights. Air Canada says it didn't have to cancel any flights because of the powerful storm.  

      As many as 2,000 Canadians were in the area as Patricia came ashore late Friday as the strongest hurricane on record, the Foreign Affairs Department said.

      With sustained winds reaching 325 kilometres an hour, the storm slammed Mexico's Pacific coast, in an area around the resort of Puerto Vallarta and the tourist-heavy port of Manzanillo, before rapidly subsiding by Saturday morning.

      Up to 500 millimetres of rain was expected Saturday in Mexico's four surrounding coastal states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima and Michoacan.

      "Canadians in the affected areas should seek shelter, and consider leaving if it is safe to do so," Foreign Affairs spokesperson John Babcock said in an email Friday. "If Canadians are leaving by land, they should do so without delay, as road closures may occur at short notice."

      The department's website continued to warn on Saturday of fallout from the storm, including possible flash flooding and landslides. The warning recommended:

      • Asking resort or hotel staff for the location of government-run shelters.
      • Making alternate travel arrangements as necessary through travel agents and tour operators.
      • Monitoring media and weather reports.

      Babcock said 500 Canadian citizens in Jalisco, the state where Patricia made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, are registered with Foreign Affairs but the department estimates "more than 2,000 in the area." 

      A handful of flights to and from the affected region from Canada were cancelled Saturday, including WestJet's departures and return flights between Puerto Vallarta and Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The airline said it was prepared to put on extra flights to get customers out of Mexico after the storm had passed.

      Despite warning of possible delays and cancellations, Air Canada did not show any service interruptions for flights to and from the area as of Saturday early afternoon. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said a Sunday flight from Toronto to the Mexican vacation destination will go ahead as scheduled.

      Away from the brunt of the storm system, Sunwing flights to Los Cabos, Mexico, from Edmonton and Calgary, and the return flights back to Canada, were delayed by nine hours.

      Ontario native Arthur Fumerton lives in Puerto Vallarta and said the weather was beautiful and sunny on Saturday, hours after the storm made landfall Friday night.

      Fumerton said he put duct tape on his windows and hunkered down to ride out what was supposed to be the worst hurricane ever recorded in the western world, but was spared when Patricia weakened rapidly after coming ashore.

      Tourists who arrived from Puerto Vallarta eat in a corridor of a hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

      Larry Kehler, a native of Steinbach, Man., who now lives in Puerto Vallarta, said the hurricane made landfall about 160 kilometres south, so there was no wind where he is living, only light rain and high cloud.

      He said he closed his Café Roma at noon Friday but planned to reopen Saturday.

      "Everybody's at home and the odd guy's gone for a walk and taken a picture down the street," he said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press on Friday night.

      "There's nobody around. Everybody's still closed."

      Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Friday saying Canada stands ready to support Mexicans in the wake of Patricia and that the thoughts of Canadians are with them.

      Corrections

      • An earlier version of this story contained raw video identified as the flooding aftermath of Hurricane Patricia in Guadalajara, Mexico. In fact, the misidentified footage was from a previous storm.
        Oct 24, 2015 4:37 PM ET

      With files from The Canadian Press

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