Hurricane Jimena weakened Tuesday evening as the still-dangerous Category 3 storm closed on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California and the resort town of Cabo San Lucas.
The hurricane’s maximum wind speed dropped from 125 mph to 115 mph (185 km/hr) over a six-hour period, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET) update. “Gradual weakening is expected prior to landfall, with a more rapid weakening thereafter,” the center said. Jimena was moving toward the north-northwest near 13 mph (20 km/hr) and was centered about 90 miles (145 km) west-northwest of Cabo San Lucas and about 125 miles (205 km) south-southeast of Cabo San Lazaro. “On the forecast track, the core of Jimena will be near or over the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula Wednesday and be near or over the central Baja California peninsula Wednesday night and Thursday,” forecasters said. See the storm’s projected path » Mexico’s government extended a hurricane warning for most of the southern half of the Baja peninsula — from Punta Abreojos on the peninsula’s west coast to Mulege on its east coast, according to the hurricane center. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area in the next 24 hours and people should quickly prepare “to protect life and property.” “A dangerous storm surge along with battering waves will produce significant coastal flooding along the Baja California Peninsula,” the hurricane center said.
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In addition to damaging winds, the storm could bring up to 10 inches of rain to the peninsula and western Mexico, forecasters said. On Tuesday, the skies in Cabo San Lucas were overcast and gusts of wind began to pick up. There were good waves for surfing, but popular beaches were devoid of tourists. Red flags warned people to stay out of the water. The day before, airlines offered extra flights to leave the area. Lionel Alvarez, who runs the resort hotel Las Ventanas al Pariaso in the town of San Jose del Cabo, found a silver lining to the coming storm. “The wind is refreshing a little bit because of the high temperatures we’ve gone through in the past few days,” he said. But Alvarez, like other locals, had work to do in preparation for Jimena. “We protect the property by dismantling all that could be dangerous, fly or can be broken,” he said. Authorities had asked about 10,000 people to evacuate the area, but many had decided to wait out the storm.
Cuauhtemoc Morgan, a resident of Los Cabos who sent videos to to CNN’s iReport, said residents had protected every home in his neighborhood, fortifying windows with masking tape. Lines at supermarkets were long as residents prepared, Morgan said. See iReport videos Authorities were setting up shelters in schools and trying to devise a plan to protect the homeless, he added.