NU Online News Service, Oct. 25, 12:36 p.m. EDT

A hurricane warning is in effect for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun, as Hurricane Rina bears down on the region.

The storm is strengthening and is expected to intensify further and become a major hurricane tonight before making landfall tomorrow night or Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

According to catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide, the popular tourist destinations of Cozumel Island and Cancun are currently in the storm’s forecast path. The insured beach resorts there are typically constructed of reinforced concrete, while smaller structures are predominantly confined masonry construction, AIR says, and the modeler expects limited structural damage to engineered structures in the area.

Tim Doggett, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide, says, “Rina is moving slowly as a result of very weak steering currents, but it is expected to pick up speed. The storm is forecast to gradually start turning to the northwest and then to the north over the next two days as a high-pressure ridge north of the storm dissipates. As this happens, wind shear is expected to begin to increase, which may weaken the storm prior to landfall.”

According to an  update by meteorologist Meghan Evans, the long-term path of the storm is still uncertain. “The storm could slice back to the east across Cuba or take more of a northeasterly path over the Florida Peninsula,” the update says.

It quotes Tropical Weather and Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski as saying, “At this time, it is very questionable if the center of the storm will make it much farther north than the Yucatan Channel.”

But Kottlowski notes that moisture from Rina will interact with a cold front in the area, creating a lot of moisture that could see torrential downpours on parts of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.

“Urban flooding could impact some communities, including large metro areas like Miami,” the update says.