October 26th, 2011

Update: Hurricane Rina

Posted at 10:06 AM ET

rina-3-smallHurricane Rina, the seventeenth named storm and sixth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, remains a strong category 2 hurricane, packing sustained winds of around 110 mph (175 kmph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm has the potential to strengthen into a major category 3 hurricane either later today or tonight. According to the NHC, Rina is located around 230 miles (370 kilometers) south-southeast of Cozumel in Mexico and around 205 miles (330 kilometers) east-southeast of Chetumal in Mexico. The storm is expected to approach Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula tonight and pass over or near Cozumel Island and Cancun tomorrow.

Storm Update

According to the NHC, Rina is currently traveling in a westerly direction at approximately 4 mph (6 kmph). On the NHC forecast track, a gradual turn to the northwest with an increase in forward speed is expected later today, followed by a turn toward the north later on October 27. The center of Rina is currently forecast to be moving near or over the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula within the warning areas between Chetumal and Cancun as a major category 3 hurricane on October 27. Rina is expected to weaken slightly as it moves near or over the Yucatan Peninsula. Currently, hurricane force winds extend 25 miles (35 kilometers) from Rina’s center, with tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 115 miles (185 kilometers).

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Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC Analytics (SM) representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

Warnings and Alerts

A hurricane warning is now in place for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun and a tropical storm warning is in place between Chetumal and Punta Gruesa. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for the coast of Belize, from Belize City and northwards, and for the Honduran Bay Islands of Roatan and Guanaja. The NHC emphasised that preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the warning areas.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast of the tropical storm warning area later today and hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area tomorrow. Rina is expected to drop 8 to 16 inches (205 to 405 millimeters) of rainfall over the eastern Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel during October 28. A dangerous storm surge will also raise sea water levels by 5 to 7 feet (1.5 to 2 meters) above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the right of the storm’s center, accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Projected Forecast

According to the NHC forecast, Rina is expected to strengthen into a category 3 hurricane within the next 12 hours as it approaches the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. According to the NHC’s 5-day forecast track, Rina is expected to clip the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula sometime on the evening of October 27. Rina is expected to weaken slightly as it tracks across the northeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, but forecasters warned the storm could still pound Mexico’s popular beach resort of Cancun and Cozumel Island with hurricane force winds.

Rina is expected to exit the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as a category 2 hurricane on October 28, from where it is forecast to weaken further whilst making a progressive turn to the east on a path that sees it tracking off the northern coast of Cuba as a tropical storm towards the weekend. Although there is considerable uncertainty concerning Rina’s exact path, reports say that most of the long range computer forecasts currently do not expect the storm to threaten energy installations in the Gulf of Mexico. However, a deviation of the forecast track to the north could see the storm affecting southern Florida. Although EQEQAT says a Florida landfall is currently a low probability, southern regions of the state fall within the NHC cone of uncertainty.

Preparations in Mexico

According to reports, authorities in Quintana Roo are starting to evacuate fishing communities on the resort-studded Mexican Caribbean coastline. Officials said 275 residents from the fishing village of Punta Allen, just south of the hurricane’s projected landfall, were taken to emergency shelters at a nearby school, where a total of 500 people are expected to be accommodated. Elsewhere in the state, around 1,100 shelters were being prepared.

According to the State Tourism Director of Quintana Roo, there are 83,000 tourists in the state and around 2,000 of these on the popular resort Island of Cozumel. Many of the tourists here were reported to be leaving of their own accord. The U.S. State Department has warned any nationals living in or on holiday in the area to prepare for the storm and to consider making plans to leave Mexico before flights become disrupted.

The Yucatan Peninsula was badly damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which badly damaged Cancun’s beaches and caused insured losses of around USD3 billion, according to reports.

Damage in Central America

Separately, reports say that emergency declarations have been issued by many Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras, after torrential rains exacerbated by the outer rain bands of Rina inflicted significant damage in the region over the last week. According to United Nations agencies, some 140 people are dead with 2 million others affected after rains triggered deadly landslides and flooding, swamping huge areas of farmland, including important coffee-growing regions and causing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage.

Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Reuters News, Xinhua News Agency.

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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