Rina becomes a hurricane off Honduras coast

Posted by on Oct 24, 2011 | 0 comments

By ROB SHAW | The Tampa Tribune
Published: October 24, 2011
Updated: October 24, 2011 – 2:33 PM
TAMPA –Rina has become a hurricane.

What was just a minimal tropical storm this morning grew into a hurricane this afternoon.

By Saturday, it could be perched near the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and perhaps headed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Where Rina might go after that is anyone’s guess.

But the west coast of Florida is always a worry late in the hurricane season, when tropical systems more often form in the Gulf and the Caribbean than they do in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Typically we keep an eye on these storms,” said Todd Barron, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. “More often than not, they will affect Florida in some way.”

Six years ago today, Hurricane Wilma smacked the coast of Southwest Florida. And 90 years ago Tuesday, the last hurricane to make a direct hit on the Tampa Bay area slammed into Tarpon Springs.

This morning, Tropical Storm Rina and its 45 mph sustained winds were located offshore of the Nicaragua-Honduras border.

“The environment right now is not conducive for it to develop much in the next couple of days,” Barron said.

That’s because wind shear — winds blowing at opposite directions that make it hard for a storm to grow – is present in the Caribbean.

Those conditions are expected to relax after a couple of days, and forecasts from the National Hurricane Center show the system could become a hurricane by Friday morning.

Water temperatures in the Caribbean are still in the low and middle 80s, Barron said, still plenty warm enough to fuel the growth of a tropical system.

Gulf readings along the west coast of Florida have fallen into the 70s with the passage of several cold fronts.

“If it moves into the cooler waters, it’s not going to allow the storm to strengthen any more,” Barron said. “It probably wouldn’t hinder it, but it’s not going to help it.”

Whatever does happen — if anything – in Florida won’t be happening anytime soon.

“If anything comes up this way,” the forecaster said, “it won’t be until late in the weekend of early next week

Comments are closed.