Hurricane Jimena has undergone an impressive burst of intensification over the last 24 hours and is now essentially a Cat 5 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph. It is tracking toward the southern tip of the Baja peninsula and could make landfall as early as tomorrow evening. I'll be following the storm in detail with frequent NHC updates and temp/heat graphs here. For purposes of discussion we'll break it up into three scenarios:
- Likely scenario -- the current forecast has Jimena making landfall as a major hurricane and tracking right over most of the Baja peninsula. That means hurricane force winds, torrential rain, massive storm surges along the coast, flash floods, and deadly mudslides. But the rugged Baja terrain should help throw a monkey wrench into the center of the storm.
- Possible scenario -- Jimena stays mostly to the west of Baja and cuts up the Mexican-California coast. Sea surface temperatures drop off rapidly between Jimena's present position toward the west coast and San Diego. Odds are Jimena would weaken a great deal if it follows that path and become a tropical storm or relatively weak hurricane.
- Worst case scenario -- it is within the realm of possibility that Jimena drifts east quicker than expected and into the narrow, warm Sea of Cortez where it either intensifies or remains a major hurricane, threading the watery needle all the way to landfall south of the California-Arizona border.
To sum it up: residents of southern and central Baja should either evac -- especially in low laying coastal regions or passes -- or be prepared to ride out a major, life threatening hurricane beginning tomorrow complete with loss of power, water, and emergency services lasting days or weeks. Residents along the lower west US coast and southern CA-AZ border, particularly those near sea level, gulches, and other flood prone areas should bookmark and follow the
National Hurricane Center
, the Weather Underground
, and be prepared to quickly move to higher, stable ground and/or seek storm rated shelters.
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