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Hurricane Jimena intensifies, prompting warnings in Baja California Sur

August 31, 2009 |  9:22 am

Jimena 8 am  

*Updated with new forecast that places Cabo San Lucas outside the hurricane's cone, or projected path

As Southern Californians continue to deal with fire and smoke, residents and tourists in Baja California Sur are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Jimena, an intense storm that might cause widespread flooding and damage.

The 8 a.m. Monday advisory from the National Hurricane Center positioned the eye of the storm 355 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas. It's traveling to the northwest with maximum sustained winds of about 145 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane. It will make landfall in the Magdalena Bay area late Tuesday or very early Wednesday.

The government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Warning for the southern half of the state. That means hurricane conditions are likely within the next 24 hours.

Beachfront hotels are shoring up and fishing fleet crews from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz have been pulling boats from the water or moving them to safer areas. Many guests at Rancho Leonero Resort on the East Cape flew home before their scheduled departure dates. Guests at nearby Hotel Punta Colorada were moved to Hotel Palmas de Cortez. Both are Van Wormer Resorts properties.

Tracy Ehrenberg, general manager of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, said Monday morning that seas were calm and the port was still open. In fact, Pisces has two charters today. Ehrenberg expects the typical chaos in advance of a hurricane -- long lines at gas stations, etc. -- to ensue throughout the day.

Mark Rayor, who runs Vista Sea Sport in Buena Vista in the East Cape, took delivery of a Cabo 35 fishing boat Friday in La Paz. A day after he drove the boat south to the East Cape, he drove it back to the protected harbor in La Paz. "The people I bought it from told me it was a lucky boat," he said. "I'm hoping they were right."

If there's a silver lining, the region is drought-stricken and parched, and Jimena is already delivering showers. Said Eric Brictson, owner of Gordo Banks Pangas: "It has been a while since we have been hit, so this could be the one one that finally brings some much-needed rainfall."

(Note: The 5 p.m. Monday update from the National Hurricane Center shows Cabo San Lucas and fishing resorts on the Sea of Cortez to about La Paz to be outside the hurricane's cone, or projected path. That is subject to change, however. Outposts will post a separate update Tuesday morning.)

--Pete Thomas


Graphic courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

Photo: In the calm before the storm, fishermen in the East Cape display the day's catch of dorado, or mahi-mahi. Credit: Van Wormer Resorts