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(Cross-posted to State of the Skies)

Category 2 Hurricane Rina continues to churn in the northwestern Caribbean this afternoon as it moves off towards the northwest on a trajectory that will take it into the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico by Thursday. The system is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane today and should hold that strength until landfall.

Anyone in Florida from about Tampa southward needs to keep a close eye on this storm, since there's a chance that it could impact the Sunshine State by early next week.

Satellite image courtesy CIMSS, click to enlarge in a new tab/window.

Jump the fold for more.

Here's the 2PM EDT forecast from the NHC. Click to enlarge in a new tab/window.

The storm is expected to just barely make landfall on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 3 hurricane before recurving, which will cause major problems for the people in this area. Rina is expected to drop 8 to 16 inches of rain over the Yucatan as well as a 5 to 7 foot storm surge.

As I mentioned yesterday, a trough/front is expected to swing down across the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days and serve to sweep Hurricane Rina off towards the east. The question right now is how far north will Rina get before it gets caught by the cold front?

Well, the models diverge on what will happen. Some have it recurve into southern Cuba, and some have it go as far north as Tampa FL. Here is the latest spaghetti model  map displaying different model runs on Rina, which shows the divergence in agreement. Click to enlarge in a new tab/window.

Some of the individual model runs are...interesting. The 12z GFDL shows Rina hitting the Yucatan and making a loop into the Gulf, south into Cuba, then back towards the west. Both the 12z GFS and the 12z HWRF models show Rina hitting southwestern Florida as a weak hurricane or strong tropical storm. The 00z ECMWF from last night has it run straight into Belize (won't happen).

As always, follow the track from the NHC and don't take the models as 100% fact. They're a guide showing what could happen if certain weather features do certain things. In fact, they're usually wrong most of the time. I'm showing them here to give you an idea of the uncertainty in the track, and to show that folks in Florida need to keep a close eye on Rina over the next week or so.

I'll post another update on this storm tomorrow afternoon, and in the meantime, I'll post more information on this storm (and other cool weather stuff) on my Facebook page.

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