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Jimena kicks up a dangerous storm

HuricaneJimena_sea (Bloomberg) Hurricane Jimena, an “extremely dangerous” storm, strengthened to almost Category 5 status off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula today, prompting a hurricane warning for a resort area and forcing an economic conference to relocate.>PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ITEMS SUCH AS THIS MAY BE SUBJECT TO SUBSCRIPTION IN THE FUTURE but you can make a donation NOW, too! Please click here for more information on how to help us continue.

jimena_amo_2009242 Hurricane Jimena’s maximum sustained winds rose to 249 kilometers (155 miles) per hour, on the dividing line between Category 4 and 5 storms on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Mexican officials put the storm at Category 5, Agence France-Presse reported.

“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. At least 10,000 families will be evacuated from possible flood zones, the Associated Press said, citing a local civil defense director, Francisco Cota.

The storm was located 495 kilometers south of Cabo San Lucas, the resort area at the tip of the peninsula, according to the center’s bulletin issued at about 2 p.m. Los Angeles time. Hurricane force winds of at least 119 kph extend out 75 kilometers from its center, an increase from the 45 kilometers estimated earlier in the day.

Stronger and Bigger

“The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters have just completed their mission in Jimena and found that the hurricane was stronger than previously estimated,” the center said. The U.S. Air Force mission also showed the storm is larger in size than previously estimated.

“Some fluctuations in strength are likely during the next day or so, but Jimena is expected to remain a major hurricane until landfall,” the center said.

Jimena is forecast to make landfall on Baja’s west coast late tomorrow and move up the peninsula.

The Los Cabos region along the southern coast of the peninsula includes the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo and a 33-kilometer stretch of resorts.

The storm has forced the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to move its global tax conference, which starts tomorrow, from Los Cabos to Mexico City, said Carlos Popoca, a spokesman for Mexico’s tax service administration.

Hurricane Warning Issued

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.

As much as 38 centimeters (15 inches) of rain may fall in isolated areas in the southern peninsula, according to the bulletin. Most areas can expect as much as 25 centimeters.

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.

The hurricane center is also monitoring an area of low pressure over the Atlantic Ocean, about 500 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. There is a greater than 50 percent chance the system will develop into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, the center said at about 2 p.m. New York time.

The system may pose a threat to the islands as it moves west-northwest at about 15 mph, the center said. The Lesser Antilles include the U.S. Virgin and British Virgin islands, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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