Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane Rina strengthens quickly in Caribbean

Less than 24 hours after landing on forecasters' maps, Rina quickly strengthened Monday from a tropical storm to a hurricane.

Hurricane Rina, which formed as a Category 1 in the Caribbean after reaching tropical-storm status late Sunday, is expected to strengthen even more and become a major hurricane by Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

But it's likely steadily weaken starting in starting in a few days, forecasters said, and its long-term path is uncertain.

Some models show it posing a threat to the Gulf of Mexico, possibly brushing Cuba or South Florida, by next week.

The more likely route would send Rina toward Central America, then making a sharp right at Cuba and into the Atlantic — not touching Florida, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker said a late-week cold front in the Tampa Bay area likely would kick out Rina if the hurricane tried to come here.

Even if the cold front has passed by then, he said, the good news is that Gulf of Mexico's waters are cooler than Caribbean waters, minimizing the storm's action if it nears here.

Rina provides evidence that the tropics are still capable of churning out powerful storms this late in the season.

"We've seen some pretty serious storms develop in November as recently as last year," Feltgen said. "So, don't think you're out of the woods just yet."

The west coast of Florida is typically more likely to get hit by tropical storms in October and November because optimal conditions shift from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.

This time of year, cooling surface waters in the eastern Atlantic make storm formation there nearly impossible.

But western Caribbean waters are still above the 79 degrees generally considered necessary for tropical storm formation.

Combine that with light wind shear and the jet stream moving farther south, and experts say it's a perfect recipe for storms to form before the traditional end of the hurricane season on Nov. 30.

"There have been quite a few November hurricanes that have come very, very close to being a big problem," said Jeff Masters, former hurricane hunter and founder of Weather Underground.

The most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, Hurricane Wilma, initially followed a path similar to Rina's.

Wilma, the third Category 5 hurricane of 2005, made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida near Naples.

The only hurricane to hit Pinellas County in recorded history also began in a similar fashion. That storm, known as the 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane, formed similarly late in the season and hit the Tampa Bay area 90 years ago, on Oct. 25.

Despite the similarities, experts said, there's no cause for alarm in this area.

"There's certainly always a chance, but the conditions it's going to run into don't look favorable," said Bay News 9 chief meteorologist Mike Clay.

Rina, located late Monday near the Nicaragua-Honduras border with 80 mph sustained winds, was moving very slowly, around 3 mph. It was predicted to perhaps make landfall near the Yucatan Peninsula by the week's end.

Tracking Rina

Weather Underground Inc. | Updates on this storm

Hurricane Rina strengthens quickly in Caribbean 10/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Arrests show construction licensing board's faults

    Editorials

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies launched a predawn operation and arrested unlicensed contractors. It was a needed crackdown on a problem that appears rampant in Pinellas because the agency charged with overseeing local contractors has no policing …

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies executed a predawn operation, arresting unlicensed contractors.
  2. Dade City teen arrested after authorities say he pulled fake gun on student

    Crime

    DADE CITY — A 14-year-old boy faces felony charges after he pulled a fake gun on a Pasco Middle School student near the school Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.

  3. Live blog: Crowd shouts at Richard Spencer as he speaks in Gainesville

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  4. Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday

    Blogs

    Will he? Won't he? It appears the Bucs' uncertainty over whether quarterback Jameis Winston can play through a shoulder injury Sunday at Buffalo will carry up until the final hours before kickoff.

    Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.
  5. Dunedin man arrested for having destruction devices, deputies say

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Deputies will be speaking later today to discuss a Dunedin man who was charged with possessing destruction devices in his home.