(11:25 a.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Jimena has weakened slightly, but remains a dangerous Category Four hurricane as it nears land in Mexico. The center of the storm is currently located 140 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and about 280 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lazaro.
The hurricane warning has been extended to include the Baja California Peninsula from its southern tip northward to Punta Abreojos and Mulege. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are likely in this region within 24 hours.
A hurricane watch is in effect from the aforementioned destinations north to Bahia San Juan Bautista, meaning that hurricane conditions are likely within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect on the west coast of mainland Mexico from Altata to Huatabampito.
According to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Jimena's maximum sustained winds have decreased slightly to almost 145 miles per hour -- keeping the storm at Category Four status. The storm may experience some fluctuations in strength today, with gradual weakening forecast for Wednesday. However, Jimena will likely remain a major hurricane when it makes landfall.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Carnival has completely altered Carnival Splendor's Mexican Riviera itinerary. The ship is scheduled to call in Catalina Island on Monday, Ensenada Tuesday, two sea days Wednesday and Thursday, Cabo San Lucas on Friday, and Ensenada again on Saturday.
Carnival Elation -- which departed from San Diego on Saturday -- had a sea day Monday and will visit Catalina on Tuesday and Ensenada on Wednesday. This itinerary replaces the previous schedule of consecutive port calls in Cabo San Lucas on Monday and Tuesday.
Carnival Paradise will also sail a revised itinerary, which is simply a rearrangement of ports. The ship departed Long Beach on Monday, will spend Tuesday at sea, and then will call in Catalina on Wednesday and Ensenada on Thursday before returning to Long Beach on Friday.
Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will reverse the order of its ports of call to avoid the hurricane. The ship departed Los Angeles on Sunday and will spend two days at sea, visit Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, Mazatlan on Thursday, and Cabo San Lucas on Friday. Saturday will be a sea day with a return to Los Angeles on Sunday. However, this new itinerary may need to be readjusted if Hurricane Jimena does significant damage to any of the ports.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
Hurricane Jimena is moving toward the north-northwest, and is expected to continue in this direction for the next few days. The center of the storm will reach the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula later today and tonight and approach the center of the peninsula by Thursday. According to the NHC's three-day forecast, it does not look like Cabo San Lucas will receive a direct hit from the storm.
Jimena is expected to drop 5 to 15 inches of rain across Baja California and Western Mexico during the next two days. The peninsula will likely experience large and dangerous battering waves and coastal flooding.
All four Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships sailing Mexico cruises in the Pacific have altered their itineraries to avoid the storm.
Stay tuned for further updates.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor