Hurricane Rina gained strength overnight, becoming a category 2 storm churning through the Caribbean on its path to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Rina's highest wind gusts were measured at 100mph at 8.00am EST, moving at 15-20mph. It is currently located around 205 miles southeast of Chetumal Mexico producing a low-pressure system that is creating thunderstorms and scattered showers.
This system has a medium chance--30 percent.--of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said.
As Rina moves towards Mexico, locally heavy rains are expected over Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, the northwestern coast of Venezuela and the Northeastern coast of Columbia during the course of the day.
As Mexico issued Hurricane warnings for its popular Cozumel Port, eight cruise ships changed their itineraries. Several ships headed to Cozumel early so they could be out of the way of the storm before it lands.
Another popular tourist resort area under Hurricane warnings is Cancun, where the storm is expected to hit by Thursday. The National Hurricane Center forecasts the storm to pick up to 120mph, potentially becoming a category 3 storm in the next 48-hours. If the storm reaches predicted heights it could create a high risk of injury or death to people, livestock and pets due to flying and falling debris.
Mexico is preparing for Rina, with 1,130 storm shelters in the state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun and Cozumel.
There are concerns over the potential impact of the storm on oil and gas production areas. Kinetic Analysis Corp. estimated the storm might shut in 6.69 million barrels of oil produced by state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America's largest oil producer, Bloomberg reported.
Rina is the 17th named storm this year, which makes 2011 the seventh most-active season since record-keeping began in 1851, Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote yesterday.
27-storm evacuees abroad a navy boat are missing in Nicaragua, CNN reported. The navy boat was taking people between the Miskito Cays and Puerto Cabezas, on the eastern coast, and is nowhere to be found, according to Vice Adm. Roger Gonzalez of the Nicaraguan navy. Authorities have issues warnings that more precipitation could be on its way in Nicaragua and Honduras. where flooding and mudslides have already affected thousands and killed dozens of people.
Rina is expected to curve east toward the west tip of Cuba by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center's tracking maps.
It is too early to speculate what, if any effects Rina will have on the U.S., but after the storm makes landfall in the Yucatan, the combination of land interaction and high shear that is forecast into the Gulf of Mexico is expected to weaken Rina as it begins to turn towards the northeast towards Cuba, or perhaps South Florida or the Bahamas, said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen.