Weakened Hurricane Jimena Does Little Damage
MIAMI, Florida, September 2, 2009 (ENS) - Hurricane Jimena made landfall on the Baja California Wednesday afternoon between Puerto San Andresito and San Jaunico, fishing villages on the peninsula's west coast.

Schools, ports, roads and businesses were closed as the Mexican government declared a state of emergency for Los Cabos and the Baja California Sur state capital of La Paz.

Residents of Baja California Sur resort areas are breathing a sigh of relief - the storm ripped roofs from houses, toppled power poles and flooded streets, but no injuries and no major damage were reported.

Hurricane Jimena flooded streets in La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. September 1, 2009 (Photo by Nico De Schuyter)

Cabo San Lucas received a total of 1.06 inches, 27 mm, of rain and experienced winds of just 30 mph while Jimena passed west-northwest of the southern tip of the peninsula. The airport and ports of Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Los Cabos reopened Wednesday, reports 96.3 FM Radio Cabo Mil.

"Ciudad Constitucion, not a resort area, and environs suffered significant damage in the early hours of September 2, with reports stating as much as 80 percent of the city's infrastructure compromised, and a minimum of three to four days required to fully restore the electrical grid in Loreto and parts of Comondu. We are waiting for a damage assessment for the municipality of Mulege," says Sabrina Lear of 96.3 FM Radio Cabo Mil.

But the damage could have been much worse if winds had not decreased overnight.

While blasting northward as a Category 4 storm on Monday and Tuesday, with sustained winds of 155 mph, today the winds lessened to 80 mph, 130 km/hr, with higher gusts, and Jimena is now considered a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale.

As of 5 pm local time, Hurricane Jimena was located near San Buenaventura, Mexico and about 40 miles, or 65 kilometers south of Santa Rosalia.

The storm continues to weaken as it moves northward up the Baja California Peninsula, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hurricane force winds extend up to 35 miles, 55 km, from the center of Jimena, and tropical storm force winds extend up to 140 miles, 220 km, from the center.

A hurricane warning is still in effect for the west coast of the Baja California peninsula from Bahia Magdalena northward to Punta Abreojos and for the Baja east coast from San Evaristo northward to the town of Mulege.

Additional weakening is expected during the next 24 to 48 hours, and the National Hurricane Center predicts that Jimena will weaken to a tropical storm tonight.

Jimena is moving north at 12 mph, 19 km/hr. A turn toward the northwest and a slowing of forward motion is expected tonight and Thursday. The storm is expected to move out over the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California by Thursday night.

Jimena is dropping five to 10 inches of rain over the southern half of the Baja Peninsula and parts of western Mexico, welcome moisture in this arid area.

But weather forecasters warn these rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Baja California Sur Governor Agundez Narcissus said that in spite of its weakening, Hurricane Jimena continues to be "extremely dangerous." He asked families located in high risk zones to come to shelters and to stay informed of weather conditions.

The Mexican government issued a second Emergency Declaration for the State of Baja California Sur today for the municipalities of Loreto and Mulege. The declaration activates resources from the Natural Disaster Fund for the five municipalities of the state to provide immediate assistance for victims.

Earlier on, an Emergency Declaration was issued for the municipalities of Los Cabos, La Paz and Comondu so that authorities will have Natural Disaster Fund resources to meet the food, shelter and health needs of the affected people.

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.