Hurricane Jimena Weakens, But Remains Dangerous

Good morning to all those in the Eastern Pacific region. Since my report on Hurricane Jimena nearly 24 hours ago, the storm has shown some mercy and weakened from near Category Five strength to a strong Category Two system on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. It has also spared Cabo San Lucas a direct hit as the Mexican Government has discontinued the Hurricane Warning from South of Agua Blanca on the West Coast of the Baja and La Paz on the East Coast of the Baja including Cabo.

However, a Hurricane Warning is now in effect from north of Agua Blanca to Punta Abreojos on the West Coast of the Baja and north of La Paz to Mulege on the East Coast of the Baja. A Hurricane Watch/Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from north of Punta Abreojos to Punta Eugenia on the West Coast, and from north of Mulege to Bahia San Juan Bautista on the East Coast of the Baja. In addition, a Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for the Northern Baja from north of Punta Eugenia to San Jose De Las Palomas on the West Coast, and north of Bahia San Juan Bautista to Bahia de Los Angeles on the East Coast. Another Tropical Storm Watch is also in effect for the West Mexican Coast from Altata northward to Bahia Kino.

As of the 5:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Jimena was located some 65 miles South-Southeast of Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico. The storm is moving to the North-Northwest at about 13 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds have slackened to just 105 miles per hour with gusts up to 125 miles per hour (110 knots). Minimum central pressure has risen to 970 millibars, or 28.64 inches of Hg. Jimena has grown a bit in size, but is still a somewhat small system with hurricane force winds extending some 50 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds reaching some 140 miles.

Looking at the latest satellite imagery of Jimena, you can see that it is still a distinct feature with deep reds near the center indicating the higher cloud tops in the circulation. According to the latest NHC discussion, the storm had been deteriorating some earlier during the overnight, but has made somewhat of a comeback. A new convective band has developed around the storm’s western semicircle, and that has given the storm some new life. However, the forecast still calls for Jimena to gradually weaken as it moves inland over the West Coast of the Baja later this morning.

Even though Jimena is weakening and heading inland, the danger will be far from over. After moving over land near Cabo San Lazaro later this morning, the storm should dissipate to a depression with 48 hours, and then to a remnant low by 72 hours. However, forecast guidance also suggests that the system will begin to slow down, and that is not good news since the storm will interact with the rugged terrain of Western Mexico to possibly produce torrential rainfall. Right now, rainfall amounts in the area of the storm are expected to range between 5 to 10 inches over the Southern half of the Baja and Western Mexico with isolated areas getting as much as 15 inches. Flash floods and mudslides are possible.

Another effect of Jimena along the Baja that will be of some concern is the storm surge. A dangerous storm surge accompanied by battering waves are expected along the Baja Peninsula. All interests in the Baja California Peninsula as well as the Northwestern portion of Mexico should continue to closely monitor the progress of this storm.