Rina likely to become a major hurricane and take a swipe at Cancun, then S. Florida

   Posted by Levi at 1:40pm on October 25, 2011

Hurricane Rina has strengthened markedly since yesterday, and is now a Category 2 with a central pressure of 972mb. The pressure fall has slowed during the last several hours as the eyewall has had some issues closing off on the eastern side, but gradual strengthening should continue through tomorrow, as Rina is under a very favorable environment aloft, with outflow expanding in all directions.

The Cancun area of Mexico is due to receive the very worst that Rina has to offer around early Thursday as Rina curves northwest around a mid-level ridge to her northeast. Rina could peak at a strong Cat 3 or even possibly a weak Cat 4 before moving into the Cancun area. She could begin weakening off her peak a tiny bit before landfall, but folks in the northeast Yucatan should be preparing for a hit from a major hurricane.

The track after a swipe at Cancun should have Rina continuing to recurve northeastward, likely making a run at the Florida Keys and extreme south Florida itself. The NHC track as of the 11am update is still following some of the models that stall Rina and force her back southeastward into Cuba and the northwest Caribbean. To me, such a track seems less realistic, given that no model is correctly initializing Rina because of her small size, and with a shortwave vorticity maximum racing along I-20 during that time frame, it seems unlikely that Rina will be blocked from an ENE escape. The video goes over this using the GFS. The GFS and HWRF 12z runs show the track that I like right now.

Rina will be weakening as she comes off of the Yucatan towards Florida due to a strengthening jetstream to the north which will be shearing her, and Rina is unlikely to hit Florida as a strong hurricane. A strong tropical storm or a weak Cat 1 at worst is more likely to be what Florida has to deal with, which is better than it could have been. Mexico will be the hardest hit by this storm.

Elsewhere, Invest 97L in the eastern Caribbean may have to be watched once it gets to Jamaica’s longitude. If it finds a sweet spot south of Rina, we may have another tropical depression to deal with, but we still have a few days before 97L will be an immediate threat.

We shall see what happens!


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