Aircraft reconnaissance, satellite pictures, and radar observations indicate that one-time hurricane Rina continues to weaken. As of 11 a.m., Rina has been downgraded to a tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) still estimates its maximum
winds at 70 mph. But that may be generous, since the best estimates of the highest sustained winds, according to the Hurricane Research Division’s analysis, are around 66 mph (60 knots).
Rina’s strongest winds, located in the northeast quadrant of the circulation, will likely remain offshore. With the center expected to pass near or over the island of Cozumel tonight, and very near the city of Cancun early tomorrow, NHC has posted tropical storm warnings (in blue) along the coast of the Yucatan from Chetumal to Progreso.
The latest radar from Cancun shows some rain showers moving onshore, but the core of
Rina appears to have nearly disintegrated. Overall, Rina is hardly recognizable as a tropical cyclone though a few tall thunderstorms (dark blue shading in the image to right) remain located near the center. It is likely that the exceedingly dry air that has long since surrounded the storm (orange shading) choked its respiratory system.
The question is no longer whether or not sustained hurricane force winds make it onshore, but rather will there be any hurricane force (75 mph) gusts? I doubt it. But we shall see as the observations come in overnight tonight and early tomorrow morning.
While it is hard to imagine that Rina will pose a destructive wind threat at any coastal location, tropical storm force winds can generate power outages, down trees and result in minor damage
Rainfall may cause the most problems, but fortunately, with the storm weakening, rainfall is also less of the threat than it once was. Recent rainfall forecasts from last night (48-hour accumulations), which may be overestimates, suggest the highest amounts will fall near Cozumel (perhaps as much as 10 inches). Much lower totals (1-5 inches) are expected along the mainland Yucatan Coast
Aside from the rainfall, Rina’s expected landfall will pose additional hazards. NHC predicts that a dangerous storm surge is still likely. Water levels are expected to rise as much as 2-4 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the right of the track of the center, along with dangerous wave action.
Yet even with these potentially harmful impacts upcoming, the Yucatan sort of dodged a bullet. After all, Rina came from a place that has produced some of history’s most ferocious storms at precisely this time of year.