Hurricane Jimena, which formed off mainland Mexico south of Acapulco, has intensified overnight and is classified as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of about 135 mph. At 8 a.m. Sunday, August 30, its center was located 515 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas and was tracking to the northwest at about 9 mph.
Jimena is a small storm; hurricane force winds extend up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center of Jimena, and tropical storm force winds up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center.
The National Hurricane Center currently predicts it will skirt the Baja California peninsula before making landfall Tuesday night in the Magdalena Bay area. This is by no means certain, however, and some models show the hurricane taking other tracks that could possibly veer the storm into the Sea of Cortez and over mainland Mexico.
None of the models bring it close enough to Puerto Penasco to do more than cause possible rain, windy conditions and some high surf.
The hurricane has already tracked slightly more eastward than originally forecast, and many storm watchers in northwestern Mexico (the states of Baja, Baja Sur and Sonora) have been commenting on the similarity of its track to Hurricane John, which wreaked havoc in Baja Sur in August/September 2006 before heading into the Sea of Cortez as a tropical depression that brought rain and high surf to the Sonoran Coast and caused flooding in parts of the USA.
According to the National Weather Service, the future track of Jimena appears to depend on two main factors: A mid- to upper-level low near the southern Baja California peninsula and a mid-level ridge over the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico.
The global models show the low drifting westward and weakening with the ridge building westward, whereas the HWRF (the purple line in the graph above) and GFDL (the blue line) models do not weaken the low or build the ridge as much. Consequently, the GFDL/HWRF take Jimena between the low and the ridge and over Baja or Mainland Mexico, while the global models predict Jimena to move to the west of Baja.
As a compromise, the official forecast lies between these two possible scenarios and moves the hurricane near the southwest coast of Baja. A hurricane watch is likely to be issued for portions of Baja Sur later on Sunday.
It should be noted that GFDL usually has historically been the closest with their forecasts in recent years, weather watchers in the Los Cabos area are keeping an especially close eye on Hurricane Jimena.
We will keep you updated on the status of Hurricane Jimena if it looks like there is any threat to Puerto Penasco.