A weakened Hurricane Rina continued to churn on its projected path toward the resort-heavy coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Mexican authorities set up emergency shelters as tourists fled Mexico's top tourism destinations like Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. Meanwhile, several cruise ships were forced to divert their routes and several airlines cancelled flights into and out of the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
On Tuesday, The United States issued a Travel Alert for U.S. citizens in Mexico, urging citizens to monitor local media reports, find a local shelter, and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. The alert also asks all citizens to remember to carry their travel documents with them at all times in a waterproof bag and contact friends and family in the United States with updates on their whereabouts.
On Thursday, Cancun's airport remained open, but more than 90 flights in and out of the city were cancelled. Hundreds of passengers bogged down with luggage waited in growing lines trying to get out before the storm hit.
People were urged not to go to Cancun's airport unless they already had confirmed reservations.
Though Rina was downgraded to a Category 1 storm, Quintana Roo's secretary of tourism, Juan Carlos Gonzales Hernandez, urged prospective travelers to reschedule their vacations to avoid running into Rina.
Cancun was devastated by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and many still have a vivid memory of the damage. Wilma was the most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic.
On Tuesday, there were around 83,000 tourists in the state of Quintana Roo, mostly foreigners at big hotels in Cancun, according to Hernandez.
There were only about 1,700 tourists in Cozumel, and many of them were leaving, according to Hernandez.
So far, Hurricane Rina has caused at least eight Carnival Cruise Lines ships to change their course, according to the Web site Travel Agent Central.
Princess Cruises cancelled its call in the Cayman Islands on Friday, and will head to Ocho Rios, Jamaica instead.
A Royal Caribbean ship, Allure of the Seas, will not visit Cozumel on Friday. It will head to Nassau, Bahamas instead.
Three Norwegian Cruise Line ships have reportedly canceled their Friday port of call in the area as well.
Most cruise lines have issued weather updates on their Web sites.
Airlines have also made adjustments for the storm. Many eased their change fee rules on Tuesday to allow passengers to alter travel plans. It's best to contact your airline directly, but here's a look at some of the major carriers:
Delta will drop change fees for ticketholders traveling to or from Cancun and Cozumel on Thursday and Friday.
JetBlue will waive change fees for travel in and out of Cancun on Thursday and Friday, though ticketholders must change their date of travel through Nov. 1.
United will wave change fees on tickets between Wednesday and Monday for travel to Cozumel and Cancun in Mexico as well as Grand Cayman Island in the Cayman Islands.
US Airlines will wave change fees for those traveling to or from Cancun on Thursday or Friday, though they must be rebooked for either Wednesday or Saturday through next Tuesday.
Virgin America will drop change fees on tickets booked on or before Tuesday for travel to and from Cancun.
Rina has also forced the evacuation of many hotels in Cancun and along the resort-filled Mayan Riviera, Mexico's most popular tourist destination.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) have followed the storm since last Thursday when a broad area of low pressure was centered between the eastern tip of Honduras and Jamaica. Rina became a tropical storm on Sunday evening before strengthening to a hurricane on Monday afternoon.
According to Thursday's 7:00 a.m. CDT alert from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Hurricane Rina was less organized and could weaken into a tropical storm later in the day. Hurricane-force-winds extend outward just 15 miles from the storm center while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 85 miles.
Rina is located about 115 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 75mph. The storm is moving northwest at 6mph, though an increase in forward speed is expected later today as the storm makes a gradual turn toward the north.
If the storm follows its projected path, the center of Rina will move over the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Thursday night and into Friday before moving back out to sea on Saturday.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to San Felipe.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Chetumal to Punta Gruesa and the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula west of San Felipe to Progreso.
Rina is predicted to dump upwards of 10 inches of rain over the eastern Yucatan peninsula from Thursday morning into Friday before it spins back between Cuba and the Florida Keys as a tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center cautions interests in western Cuba to monitor the progress of the storm.
Rina is the seventeenth named storm and sixth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.