Rina made landfall over the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as a tropical storm packing sustained winds of around 60 mph (95 kmph) at around 03:00 UTC on October 28, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC said the tourist resorts of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Cancun were hit by tropical storm force winds as such winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) to the north and east of the storm’s center at landfall. The storm is currently located about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west-northwest of Cancun and packs sustained winds of around 50 mph (85 kmph). Rina weakened significantly on its approach to the Yucatan Peninsula due to dry air and increased wind shear, limiting the damage across the Yucatan Peninsula but still causing disruption.
No reports of major damage have been received from the region so far, although several homes and businesses have lost power. Several schools were also closed and at least 1,700 people evacuated to shelters. AIR Worldwide said Rina’s primary threat is from rainfall, exacerbated by the storm’s slow forward speed, and the NHC warned Rina is expected bring up to 10 inches (255 millimeters) of rain over northeastern Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel today. Storm surge alerts have also been issued, with the NHC warning of surges up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) above normal tide levels along the Cozumel and northeastern Yucatan coast. The NHC added that the surge will be accompanied by large, destructive and dangerous waves. A tropical storm warning also remains in effect for the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Allen to San Felipe.
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Ahead of the storm’s landfall, around 50,000 people were evacuated from coastal communities. Officials said 275 residents from the fishing village of Punta Allen were taken to emergency shelters at a nearby school. Around 2,800 people were also evacuated from low-lying Holbox Island.
Mexico’s top beach resorts scattered along the Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun, also took precautions. Homes and businesses were boarded up there and an estimated 10,000 tourists evacuated the region, according to officials. The U.S. State Department also 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. Reports said Cancun’s airport remained open, but more than 90 flights in and out of the city were cancelled.
According to the NHC, Rina is currently traveling in a north-northeasterly direction at approximately 5 mph (7 kmph). This generally motion is expected to continue for the next 12 hours or so before Rina begins to take a southward turn and drift back towards the northwestern Caribbean Sea and remain there for a few days. Forecasters expect the storm to lose more force as it loops to the south and the NHC expects the storm to disintegrate into a tropical depression on October 29. The NHC says there is a 48 percent chance of Rina weakening into a tropical depression over the next 36 hours.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Reuters News, Xinhua News Agency
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