Category 4 Hurricane Threatens Mexico

Emergency workers built shelters for thousands of endangered families as a strengthening Hurricane Jimena roared toward Mexico's resort-studded Baja California peninsula Monday.

Jimena, a dangerous Category 4 storm, could rake southern Baja California by Tuesday evening, forecasters said.

At least 10,000 families will be evacuated from potential flood zones, said Francisco Cota, the local director of Civil Protection. He said 60 shelters would be set up.

"I think it's going to be a substantial hurricane by the time it approaches," said Richard Pasch of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Delegates from around the world had already begun to arrive for a conference sponsored by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday and Wednesday at Cabo Los Cabos at the southern tip of the peninsula.

Nicholas Bray, the head of media for the Paris-based organization, said Monday there are no plans to postpone or cancel the meeting due to the hurricane.

Brenda Munoz, who lost her home to a 2001 hurricane, was taking no chances and stocking up on food this time.

"I remember when Hurricane Juliette hit with a lot of intensity. It flattened our home, lots of flooding, lots of disaster," Munoz said in Cabo San Lucas. "We're already prepared with food and everything so it won't catch us off guard."

But with the weather still mild on Sunday, Jim Patterson, a tourist from Big Bear Lake, California, could not muster much concern.

"Are you saying it would be a good idea to stock up on tequila?" he joked at a seaside restaurant. "No fear. I've been through tornados and earthquakes and everything else, but never a hurricane."

Farther south, Jimena kicked up surf along Mexico's mainland western coast and generated strong winds that bent and uprooted trees in the resort town of Zihuatanejo.

Early Monday, Jimena had maximum sustained winds near 145 mph (230 kph) and was moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

It was centered about 370 miles (595 kilometers) south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas.

Authorities in Cabo Corrientes were setting up shelters in case of heavier winds and rain, said Arturo Garcia, an official with Jalisco's Civil Protection agency.

The U.S. hurricane center issued a public advisory for residents in western Mexico and the southern part of the Baja peninsula to keep tabs on Jimena.

Farther out in the Pacific, a weakening Tropical Storm Kevin had top winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was centered 895 miles (1,435 kilometers) west-southwest of the Baja peninsula's southern tip.