Hurricane Jimena Lashes Mexico with Wind and Rain

September 2, 2009

(6:14 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Jimena is a weakened Category Two hurricane as it makes landfall near Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico. So far, the Baja California Peninsula, including Cabo San Lucas, has experienced lots of rain, high surf, trees and power lines toppling in the high winds, and flooding.

The center of the storm is currently located approximately 30 miles north-northeast of Cabo San Lazaro and 255 miles southeast of Punta Eugenia. According to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Jimena's maximum sustained winds have decreased again to 100 miles per hour, downgrading the storm to a Category Two hurricane. The storm is expected to weaken during the next 24 hours yet remain a hurricane as it moves inland.

A hurricane warning remains in effect on the Baja California Peninsula from Aqua Blanca and La Paz northward to Punta Abreojos and Mulege. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are likely in this region within 24 hours.

A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect from the aforementioned destinations north to Bahia San Juan Bautista and Punta Eugenia, 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 Bahia Kino, as well as from Punta Eugenia and Bahia San Juan Bautista north to San Jose de Las Palomas and Bahia de Los Angeles.

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 departed from San Diego on Saturday. Its new schedule features a sea day Monday and visits to 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 is also sailing a revised itinerary, which is simply a rearrangement of ports. The ship departed Long Beach on Monday, spent Tuesday at sea, and will call in Catalina on Wednesday and Ensenada on Thursday before returning to Long Beach on Friday.

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas is reversing the order of its ports of call to avoid the hurricane. The ship departed Los Angeles on Sunday and spent two days at sea, and will 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, with a decrease in forward speed over the next 24 to 36 hours. The center of the storm is near or over the coast of Mexico by Cabo San Lazaro and is forecast to be near or over the center of the peninsula by Thursday.

Hurricane force winds are extending outward to 35 miles, with tropical storm winds extending to 140 miles from the storm's center. Jimena is expected to drop 5 to 15 inches of rain across Baja California and Western Mexico during the next few days. The peninsula will likely experience large and dangerous battering waves, coastal flooding, flash floods and mudslides.

On the Baja California Peninsula, thousands of residents have evacuated and most tourists flew out ahead of the storm. Schools and businesses are closed, with power outages and flooded streets in many areas. The tourist areas of Los Cabos so far seem to have avoided major damage.

All four Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships sailing Mexico cruises in the Pacific have altered their itineraries to avoid the storm. We'll keep you posted on whether Carnival Splendor and Mariner of the Seas will call in Cabo San Lucas as scheduled on Friday.

Stay tuned for further updates.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor