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Yucatan Peninsula prepares for Rina

Storm expected to strengthen; residents warned of storm surge, mudslides

MIAMI (UPI) | October 25, 2011

Hurricane warnings were issued for parts of Mexico Tuesday as Hurricane Rina strengthened in the Caribbean Sea, U.S. forecasters said.

The Category 2 hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph -- up from 100 mph at the start of the day -- and was about 260 miles east-southeast of Chetumal and about 250 miles southeast of Cozumel, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 8 p.m. EDT advisory.

Rina was producing hurricane-force winds up to 30 miles out from its eye and tropical storm-force gales up to 140 miles.

The storm was traveling west at 3 mph but was expected to turn toward the west-northwest Tuesday night and then gradually turn toward the north while picking up forward speed by Thursday. On its forecast track, Rina is expected to move near or over the coast of Yucatan within the hurricane warning area Wednesday night or Thursday, forecasters said.

The center said Rina was expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night and should strengthen further during the next 48 hours.

Tropical storm and hurricane wind conditions were expected to reach the coast beginning late Wednesday, the center said.

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Guresa to Cancun. Mexico issued tropical storm warnings for the east coast from Chetumal to Punta Gruesa. Honduras issued a tropical storm watch for the Bay Islands of Ratan and Guanaja. The watch was expected to be upgraded to a warning later Tuesday or Wednesday.

Eight to 16 inches of rain was possible over the eastern Yucatan Peninsula from Wednesday morning into Thursday, NHC said.

A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet above normal tide levels along the coast near and to the right of the storm's path. Large, destructive waves will accompany the surge.

Nicaraguan authorities said Tuesday a boat carrying 29 people who evacuated Nicaragua because of the storm has been found following a search off the Nicaraguan coast, and all 29 were alive, CNN reported. The navy boat ferrying people from the Miskito Cays to Puerto Cabezas had been reported missing Sunday.

Flood-soaked Central America also prepared for more rain as Rina moved along and the end of the rainy season approached, CNN reported. In Nicaragua and Honduras, authorities issued alerts warning residents more precipitation could be on the way.

October marks the end of the rainy season in the region, which has seen flooding and mudslides for several weeks, officials said. Central American officials reported at least 114 rain-related deaths.

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