Jimena to weaken into tropical storm

Sept. 2, 2009 at 9:58 PM
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MIAMI, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Rain and wind from Hurricane Jimena swept Mexico's Baja Peninsula Wednesday but forecasters said Jimena is likely to become a tropical storm Wednesday night.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings forced thousands into shelters Wednesday and a hurricane warning remained in effect Wednesday evening for the Baja California Peninsula from Bahia Magdalena northward to Punta Abreojos on the west coast and from San Evaristo northward to Mulege on the east coast, the National Hurricane Center said. A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch were in effect for the peninsula north of Punta Eugenia on the west coast and north of Mulege on the east coast, while a tropical storm warning was posted for the northwestern mainland of Mexico.

At 5 p.m. PDT, the center of Hurricane Jimena was near San Buenaventura, Mexico, and about 65 miles south of Santa Rosalia, Mexico.

Maximum sustained winds had decreased to 80 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extended outward as far as 35 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended 140 miles outward.

Jimena was moving toward the north at about 12 mph and was expected to turn toward the northwest and lose forward speed Wednesday night. The storm is expected to move over the central Baja California Peninsula Wednesday night and Thursday and then move into the Pacific by Thursday night.

Jimena was expected to produce 5-10 inches of rain over the southern half of the Baja Peninsula and parts of western Mexico during the next few days, forecasters said.

Early Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported as least 5,000 people had taken refuge in government shelters as the storm approached.

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