At 11pm ET Sunday, Tropical Depression #18 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Rina with winds of 40mph while located 210 miles south-southwest of Grand Cayman Island in the northwestern Caribbean Sea.
At 8am ET Monday, Tropical Storm Rina was located 135 miles north-northeast of the Nicaragua/Honduras border, which is also approximately 538 miles south of Key West, Florida.
- Maximum sustained winds remain near 40 mph and slow strengthening is forecast over the next couple of days due to the influence of wind shear and dry air surrounding the storm.
Environmental conditions could become more favorable later this week and the official forecast has Rina becoming a hurricane by Friday.
Computer models have a wide range of possibilities in regards to the strength and track of Rina. About one-third of the computer models keep Rina a tropical storm through the next 5 days while another one-third has Rina reaching major hurricane status, leaving the remaining one-third (and many of the consensus models) at Category 1 & 2 intensity.
Rina is currently moving toward the north-northwest around 6 mph, but a west to west-northwest movement is forecast through the next 2-3 days as it is steered around the southern edge of a mid-level high pressure system over the U.S. Gulf Coast. However, a northward turn could occur later this week in response to an approaching frontal system moving over the eastern half of the U.S.
Steering currents and the strength and amplitude of the front will play a large role in the track of Tropical Storm Rina and computer models are in disagreement with the track of this storm. About half of the models take the storm westward and inland over Central America within the next day or so while others take the system more north and then northeastward into the Gulf of Mexico.
The computer models that move Rina northeast this weekend are those with a much stronger frontal system moving into the region this weekend. The more reliable computer models are currently forecasting a less progressive frontal passage.
- It is still too early to tell if this system will directly impact Florida, but everyone is encouraged to continue to monitor this storm over the next several days.
More information on Tropical Storm Rina can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov