The powerful Hurricane Jimena is threatening the popular Mexican resort area at the tip of the Baja California peninsula.

By Kristin Jackson

Americans are being urged to leave Mexico’s popular Los Cabos tourist area as a powerful hurricane approaches.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert Monday afternoon. “U.S. citizens located in areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Jimena and who do not have access to adequate and safe shelter should consider departing while commercial flights are still available,” said the State Department.

Hurricane Jimena, a dangerous Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph as of Monday afternoon, is expected to reach the resort area Tuesday evening. Los Cabos is studded with luxury beachfront hotels between the small towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. It’s a popular destination for travelers from the Seattle area.

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Thousands of local residents were being evacuated from potential flood zones and shelters were being set up. Rainfall could reach 10 inches over the next several days, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center, and the Mexican government issued a hurricane warning Monday.

Seats could be limited on commercial flights out of southern Baja California and airports could close, said the State Department, adding that Hermosillo and resort towns on Mexico’s west coast as far south as Mazatlan could expect to receive heavy rain and winds and a strong storm surge from the hurricane.

U.S. airlines are allowing travelers to delay flights to Los Cabos without the usual financial penalties for flight changes over the new few days, and cruise ships have canceled port calls.

Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines are among those offering travelers a waiver that allows them to rebook flights to Los Cabos for another time. Travelers should check with their airlines for specific dates; most post details on their Web sites.

Cruise lines have changed itineraries to avoid the hurricane. Carnival Cruise Lines has diverted two ships away from Los Cabos on cruises from Southern California, and Royal Caribbean also altered itineraries.