Crawling its way toward the Yucatan, Hurricane Rina was expected to grow to a Category 3 storm by late Tuesday.
With winds swirling at 100 mph, the Category 2 storm was forecast to speed up and turn northwest over the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Although the storm’s long-term path remained largely uncertain, forecasters said it was extremely unlikely Rina would have much effect on Florida.
If the hurricane maintains its intensity and direction, it could head toward the Florida Keys, bringing tropical conditions to the southernmost part of the state.
But cool waters and a stronger wind shear in its way make it unlikely that Rina will continue undeterred, meteorologists said.
A cold front approaching Florida may eventually help push Rina on a turn back to the east.
The center of Rina, moving at 3 mph early Tuesday, will likely approach the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula by Thursday morning, experts said.
The NHC has issued a hurricane watch for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Chetumal to Punta Gruesa.
Meanwhile, an area of disorganized thunderstorms just to the north of Curacao makes up another system to watch, moving at about 20 miles per hour over the south-central Caribbean.
That system was expected to bring heavy rains over the northwestern coast of Venezuela and northeastern coast of Colombia over the course of the day Tuesday, according to the NHC.
With winds and warming waters creating more favorable conditions for development, forecasters said it may grow and strengthen over coming days. It has a 40 percent chance of developing into a tropical system in the next 48 hours, according to the NHC.
St. Petersburg Times