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People gather at a beach Sunday in Cabo San Lucas on Mexico's Baja California peninsula as storm clouds loom on the horizon. ((Guillermo Arias/Associated Press))

Authorities and residents of Mexico's Baja California peninsula stockpiled emergency goods and prepared shelters on Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Jimena slamming into the popular resort area.

The fierce Category 4 storm was expected to make landfall late Tuesday over the peninsula before heading along the Baja coast toward California, forecasters said.

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Hurricane Jimena is seen off the coast of Mexico in this satellite image released Monday by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. ((NOAA/Associated Press))

A hurricane watch was in place along the peninsula, the tip of which includes the Los Cabos resort centres that are critical to Mexico's tourism industry. A hurricane warning remained in effect for the southern portion of the peninsula.

Heavy bands of intermittent rain moved across Los Cabos on Monday evening.

At least 10,000 families will be removed from potential flood zones, said Francisco Cota, the local director of Civil Protection. He said 60 evacuation 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.

By 8 p.m. PT on Monday, Jimena had strengthened to a near-Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of nearly 250 km/h and was moving northwest at about 15 km/h. It was centred about 390 kilometres south of Cabo San Lucas.

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.

A tropical storm watch was issued late Monday for the country's western coast from Altata to Huatabampito.

With files from The Associated Press