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Hurricane Jimena Strengthened to Near Category 5 – September 1st, 2009

19.9N 110.3W

August 31st, 2009 Category: Image of the day, Tropical Cyclones

The Eye of Jimena - August 31st, 2009

The Eye of Jimena - August 31st, 2009

Enhanced image - August 31st, 2009

Enhanced image

Hurricane Jimena

Hurricane Jimena

Track of Jimena - August 31st, 2009 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of Jimena

Hurricane Jimena, an “extremely dangerous” storm, strengthened to near Category 5 status off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula today.

Hurricane Jimena’s maximum sustained winds rose to almost 240 kilometers (150 miles) per hour, just 9 kph below Category 5, the highest rank on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. That was up from 233 kph earlier today.

It was located 545 kilometers south of Cabo San Lucas, the resort area at the tip of the peninsula, according to the center’s bulletin issued at about 11 a.m. Los Angeles time.

“This may be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the region,” said Jose Gajon, the La Paz-based director of civil protection for the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. He said authorities were evacuating residents of the western Baja town Comondu.

“Jimena is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” according to the U.S. hurricane center’s bulletin. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.” Hurricane Liza, a Category 3 storm which struck Baja California Sur in 1976, was the most intense storm to hit the region, Gajon said. At least 435 people were killed, the NHC said.

Mexican authorities issued a hurricane warning for the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula, according to the center. A warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours. Jimena is forecast to make landfall on Baja’s west coast late tomorrow and move up the peninsula. Hurricane-force winds of at least 119 kph extend 45 kilometers from the eye.

“The current level of dangerousness is high for Jimena, but the colder waters near Los Cabos could weaken the hurricane,” said Alberto Hernandez, a meteorologist with Mexico’s National Meteorological System. Gajon said authorities would meet later today to discuss halting air traffic in the region.

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