Hurricane Rina a Category 2, headed towards the Yucatan

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:52 PM GMT on October 25, 2011

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Hurricane Rina is now a Category 2 storm, headed slowly west-northwest at 3 mph towards Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The most recent hurricane hunter mission was at 4:32 am EDT this morning, and the next aircraft is not due into the storm until this afternoon, so we'll have to rely on satellite estimates of the storm's strength until then. Recent satellite intensity estimates suggest Rina has leveled off in intensity, with no change in strength since the last hurricane hunter mission. A murky, cloud-filled eye is visible on visible satellite loops right now. Rina also has an impressive upper-level outflow channel to the north, and very intense thunderstorms with cold clouds tops that extend up to the stratosphere. Wind shear is a moderate 15 - 20 knots due to strong upper-level winds out of the south, and these winds are injecting dry air into Rina's south side, inhibiting heavy thunderstorm development there. Water temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and these warm waters extend to great depth. Rina has brought sporadic heavy rain squalls to the Cayman Islands; George Town on Grand Cayman has received 4.76" of rain over the past three days from Rina, as of 9 am EDT this morning.


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image of Tropical Storm Rina taken at 12:15 pm EDT October 24, 2011. Two hours after this image was taken Rina had intensified into a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Forecast for Rina
The hurricane hunters found Rina's eyewall had a gap in it during their 4:32 am EDT eye penetration this morning, probably caused by the moderate wind shear the storm has experienced over the past day. It is unlikely that Rina will be able to "bomb" and undergo rapid intensification unless it can close off this gap in the eyewall. Wind shear is not expected to increase until Wednesday night, so Rina still has a day and a half to continue its intensification process. Given the storm's inability to close off its eyewall so far, I expect that a Category 3 storm is the strongest that we will see. On Wednesday night, Rina will encounter a dry airmass with high wind shear that lies over the extreme northwestern Caribbean. These conditions should weaken the hurricane, but Rina could still be a major hurricane if it makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday.

A trough of low pressure is predicted to pass to the north of Rina late this week, which should turn Rina more to the northwest by Thursday and northeast on Friday. However, it is uncertain if Rina will be strong enough to fully "feel" the steering influence of this through and be swept to the east-northeast into Southwest Florida and the Florida Keys. If Rina makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula and weakens significantly, the storm will likely be too weak to get caught up by the trough and will remain trapped in the Western Caribbean. This is the solution of the latest runs of the ECMWF, UKMET, and HWRF models. However, if Rina remains strong through Friday, it is more likely to get caught up by the trough and drawn into the Florida Keys as a weakening tropical storm on Friday or Saturday. This is the solution of the latest 2 am EDT runs of the GFDL and GFS models. There is high degree of uncertainty which set of model runs will be correct.

Comparing Rina to Hurricane Wilma of 2005
Rina's intensification into a hurricane over the Western Caribbean during the last half of October brings to mind Hurricane Wilma, which also did this in 2005. Wilma went on to become a Category 5 monster, the strongest Atlantic hurricane of all-time. I don't think Rina will be another Wilma, even though the ocean temperatures and total heat content are similar to what Wilma experienced (Figure 3). Wilma had nearly ideal upper-level atmospheric conditions with an anticyclone aloft and light wind shear, under 5 knots. Rina is experiencing 15 - 20 knots of wind shear and is also a smaller storm, and is thus more vulnerable to the effects of wind shear and dry air.


Figure 2. Hurricane Wilma at 8:22 a.m. CDT Oct. 19, 2005 as photographed by the crew aboard NASA's international space station as the complex flew 222 miles above the storm. At the time, Wilma was the strongest Atlantic hurricane in history, with a central pressure of 882 mb and winds of 185 mph. The storm was located in the Caribbean Sea, 340 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and had an eye just 2.3 miles in diameter, the smallest on record.


Figure 3. The total heat content of the ocean available to fuel hurricane intensification as measured by the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP). Top: TCHP for October 23, 2011, one day before Hurricane Rina of 2011 formed. Bottom: TCHP for October 18, 2005, the day Hurricane Wilma formed. TCHP values in excess of 80 kJ per centimeter squared (yellow colors) are often associated with rapid intensification of hurricanes. Both hurricane had similar very high levels of TCHP to help fuel intensification. Image credit: NOAA/AOML


Figure 4. Wind shear in knots for 09 UTC October 25, 2011, during Hurricane Rina of 2011 (top) and at 21 UTC October 17, 2005, the day before Wilma became a hurricane. A large area of wind shear less than 5 knots lay over Wilma as it was forming, while Rina was under wind shear of 20 knots this morning. Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS.

97L north of the ABC islands
A broad region of low pressure between the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao and the Dominican Republic (Invest 97L), is moving west-northwest at 15 - 20 mph. Heavy thunderstorm activity has decreased a little since yesterday, and the activity is not organized into spiral bands, as is apparent from Curacao radar. The storm is surrounded by a large region of dry air, and this dry air is the main impediment to development. Wind shear is a low 5 - 10 knots, and is expected to remain low through Thursday, and 97L will encounter a moister atmosphere as it progresses westward into the Central Caribbean. By the time 97L reaches the region between Jamaica and Nicaragua on Thursday, the storm could develop into a tropical depression. However, none of the reliable models are predicting that 97L will develop. NHC gave 97L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Thursday, in their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook. Heavy rains from 97L should reach Jamaica on Thursday, the Cayman Islands by early Friday morning, and south-central Cuba by Friday night.

Geomagentic storm triggers brilliant aurora displays
A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that blasted away a portion of the sun's atmosphere earlier this week hit the Earth's magnetic field at 2 pm EDT yesterday. The resulting show of Northern Lights was observed as far south as Arkansas last night. Here in Michigan, I got a call from a neighbor's 12-year old, who was concerned that the sky was all red. Alas, the display was gone by the time I had finished explaining in far too much technical detail what was behind the event!

I'll have a new post on Rina this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

Northern Lights!!! 2011_10_24 (thebige)
In SW MO! Rare, Rare sight!
Northern Lights!!! 2011_10_24
Mid Michigan Aurora 1 (mactoot)
Not great, but better than nothing!! Notice the
Mid Michigan Aurora 1

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681. portcharlotte
10:23 PM GMT on October 26, 2011
Hey Rick in WPB...I don't know who you are but I lived in WBB for 38 years..I worked as a met Tech at PBI for 14 years, I did a meteorologist radio Show in Riviera beach for 2 years. I worked at NHC in the Satellite Division for two years with Max Mayfield. I was just a Tech but I know a thing about tropical systems. I respect your opinion but do not respect your atitude in that previous comment ...You enjoy the hobby of blogging and keep the game clean

Quoting RickWPB:

Yeah but, If I read that GFS right, it's just a 1001mb low pressure when it gets to SW Florida coast or a TS. If I had my druthers...
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 703
679. WeatherfanPR
9:55 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting timswunderblog:
what is the link to that picture?



Link
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678. timswunderblog
9:53 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting WeatherfanPR:



what is the link to that picture?
Member Since: September 26, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 17
677. timswunderblog
9:52 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
i am going to have a blog up soon about Rina how do you upload pictures?
Member Since: September 26, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 17
676. indianrivguy
9:50 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Anybody that knows...I'm about to start a Wikipedia article for Rina..Anybody know where the storm originated from?


Wasn't this from the low pressure trough in EPAC that moved over to our side. I remember looking around in the archives for storms that crossed the isthmus because someone had asked a question about it.
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2564
673. WeatherfanPR
9:42 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Watching4Belize:
Can someone be nice enough to post a pic of the latest models? Thanks!



Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1590
672. WoodyFL
9:37 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Watching4Belize:
Can someone be nice enough to post a pic of the latest models? Thanks!


Member Since: April 24, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 601
671. sar2401
9:37 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting weatherman12345:
what let wilma actually stregthen as it swept across the south GOM in simmilar harsh conditions? they are going to be around the same intesity when it nears mexico.


Several things. First, Wilma was a very large hurricane compared to Rina, with hurricane force winds extending up to 175 miles from the center. Second, Wilma had an extremely low central pressure, 887 millibars, compared to Rina, which is at 970 millibars at about the same location as Wilma, when she was undergoing her most intense strengthening phase. Rina appears to be deepening slowly, if at all. Third, a powerful eastward-moving mid-level trough across the central United States turned the hurricane northeastward and caused it to gradually accelerate after she got back into the Gulf. With forward speeds of about 50 knots, the wind shear that was over her had very little effect, especially since she was large enough to insulate herself from the effects of almost any other weather. Lastly, Wilma formed near the end of one of the most active hurricane seasons in Atlantic history, so the whole Caribbean and central Atlantic Ocean atmosphere was already destabilized and ready for a large storm like Wilma to grow. Wilma was a a once in a lifetime kind of storm, and Rina, even though she formed in the same area and at the same time, is really not comparable in almost any way.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16117
670. Watching4Belize
9:28 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Can someone be nice enough to post a pic of the latest models? Thanks!
Member Since: May 19, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
668. cyclonekid
9:27 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 1731
667. alvarig1263
9:26 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
NEW BLOG!!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 744
666. Levi32
9:26 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
This is Hurricane Paula from October last year, compared to Rina. While Paula took a similar track to Rina and then dissipated over Cuba, there are key differences to notice here. Paula could be described here as rather flimsy, and the upper-level flow was southeasterly straight across the system with poor outflow everywhere except north of the storm. Paula had an even smaller and weaker structure than Rina's, which helped her weaken quickly in the face of the jetstream to the north. Rina, however, has absolutely amazing outflow right now, including a developing equatorward channel that Paula never had. Her core is clearly more mature than Paula's and her warm air bubble aloft is rounder. This should allow Rina to track farther north than Paula did and stay stronger for longer.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
665. Levi32
9:22 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Hurricanes12:


Levi, do you believe that the most probable track would be into S. FL? You mentioned that some models aren't correctly measuring her pressure and how deep in the atmosphere she is. Do you think that is why some models are predicting that she will curve once she reaches the tip of western Cuba?


Yes, since yesterday in my blog I have mentioned that the more northward track close to south Florida makes more sense to me.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
664. GainesvilleGator
9:22 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
If Rina gets pulled northeastward more quickly then there will be less time for shear to tear it apart. We could have cat 1 hurricane hitting SW Florida or going through the Keys.

What if Rina does do a big loop and ends back up in the Western Carribean? This would happen if it has more land interaction with the Yucatan Pennisula. Will the windshear be more favorable in the GOM after 5 days?
Member Since: September 11, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 745
663. avthunder
9:21 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting alvarig1263:


Hurricane Jeanne Archive
That really is cool - I had forgotten how long that thing sat out there and the loop - talk about hard to predict.
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662. alvarig1263
9:21 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Recon is on it's way and about 430 miles from Rina's center.
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661. alvarig1263
9:20 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting WeatherfanPR:



very large cone = very low confidence


It seems that when the GFS is predicting a turn out to sea or a " u-turn of death in the caribbean" then the NHC is all over using the GFS, but as soon as they predict a direct landfall on US soil, they take some other models into consideration and hold off for a little while until they're sure it's coming (when it's <48 hours away). Allow it may subdue a "panic" for a little while they should give people more time to prepare and point the cone towards FL or anywhere else if that's where the models say it's going.
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659. BaltimoreBrian
9:20 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
New Blog.
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658. sunlinepr
9:20 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
657. Hurricanes12
9:20 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looks to be a pretty decent tropical storm. Probably something similar to 2008's Fay, except with less precipitation.

84 hours out on the 12z GFS:



If she was actually reaching S.FL in 84 hours, she could still maintain some sort of moderate strength because that would be moving quite quickly, right?
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
655. MiamiHurricanes09
9:18 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Hurricanes12:


What strength does the GFS put it when it is on Florida?
Looks to be a pretty decent tropical storm. Probably something similar to 2008's Fay, except with less precipitation.

84 hours out on the 12z GFS:

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
654. Hurricanes12
9:18 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Levi32:


Wilma was massive and had undergone and eyewall replacement cycle, something that allows hurricanes to expand their pressure field and release heat over a larger area. Rina is not going to be as large and is more susceptible to wind shear. However, she is a lot stronger in structure than Paula from last year and will not be falling apart as fast. That is why she could easily still be a Cat 1 in Florida, but if she takes her time she could just as easily only be a moderate tropical storm.


Levi, do you believe that the most probable track would be into S. FL? You mentioned that some models aren't correctly measuring her pressure and how deep in the atmosphere she is. Do you think that is why some models are predicting that she will curve once she reaches the tip of western Cuba?
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
653. alvarig1263
9:17 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting spathy:


Thanks neighbor Alva.
You have been very kind to respond to my random thoughts.


Your welcome. It's what I do. Lol
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652. sunlinepr
9:17 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
651. RickWPB
9:16 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The 12z GFS seems pretty realistic. Not a fan of the fact that it's on my doorstep on Saturday though.

Yeah but, If I read that GFS right, it's just a 1001mb low pressure when it gets to SW Florida coast or a TS. If I had my druthers...
Member Since: September 26, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 356
650. wpb
9:15 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
18z gfs running soon.
Member Since: May 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
649. Levi32
9:15 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting weatherman12345:
what let wilma actually stregthen as it swept across the south GOM in simmilar harsh conditions? they are going to be around the same intesity when it nears mexico.


Wilma was massive and had undergone and eyewall replacement cycle, something that allows hurricanes to expand their pressure field and release heat over a larger area. Rina is not going to be as large and is more susceptible to wind shear. However, she is a lot stronger in structure than Paula from last year and will not be falling apart as fast. That is why she could easily still be a Cat 1 in Florida, but if she takes her time she could just as easily only be a moderate tropical storm.

Wilma upper-level winds on October 24th, 2005:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
647. Hurricanes12
9:14 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The 12z GFS seems pretty realistic. Not a fan of the fact that it's on my doorstep on Saturday though.


What strength does the GFS put it when it is on Florida?
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
646. RitaEvac
9:13 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Rina the Ripper on a tear for Halloween, nobody has a clue and gonna cause widespread panic
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645. BaltimoreBrian
9:13 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Wonder how many years Rina's ACE will take us past for the season total rank.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
644. wpb
9:12 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Looks like its beginning another round of intensification.

noaa p3 wll be in the hurricane soon
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643. BaltimoreBrian
9:12 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:
ACE-wise, Rina has quickly climbed into the #6 spot for the season after just 48 hours in existence:

1) KATIA: 24.8375
2) IRENE: 20.3425
3) OPHELIA: 18.3550
4) PHILIPPE: 14.1000
5) MARIA: 8.6700
6) RINA: 3.7525
7) BRET: 2.9450
8) NATE: 2.8225
9) CINDY: 2.3125
10) ARLENE: 1.9875
11) EMILY: 1.9875
12) DON: 1.7375
13) LEE: 1.7050
14) GERT: 1.6025
15) HARVEY: 1.2350
16) JOSE: 0.5275
17) FRANKLIN: 0.4050

On a side note that is nothing more than coincidence, Philippe remains the sole male-named storm in the top six, while Gert is the only storm with a female name in the bottom six...


Major for the next two days will take Rina up to 5th. 4th after that.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8630
642. MiamiHurricanes09
9:11 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
The 12z GFS seems pretty realistic. Not a fan of the fact that it's on my doorstep on Saturday though.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
641. WeatherfanPR
9:10 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
That's not a cone into Florida, that's a giant circle meaning we don't have an effing clue



I like this comment !
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639. sunlinepr
9:08 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
24-36 hrs. and it will go down...

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638. RitaEvac
9:07 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
That's not a cone into Florida, that's a giant circle meaning we don't have an effing clue
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
636. Seastep
9:06 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
635. Neapolitan
9:06 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
ACE-wise, Rina has quickly climbed into the #6 spot for the season after just 48 hours in existence:

1) KATIA: 24.8375
2) IRENE: 20.3425
3) OPHELIA: 18.3550
4) PHILIPPE: 14.1000
5) MARIA: 8.6700
6) RINA: 3.7525
7) BRET: 2.9450
8) NATE: 2.8225
9) CINDY: 2.3125
10) ARLENE: 1.9875
11) EMILY: 1.9875
12) DON: 1.7375
13) LEE: 1.7050
14) GERT: 1.6025
15) HARVEY: 1.2350
16) JOSE: 0.5275
17) FRANKLIN: 0.4050

On a side note that is nothing more than coincidence, Philippe remains the sole male-named storm in the top six, while Gert is the only storm with a female name in the bottom six...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13556
634. mrjr101
9:06 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Who else noticed that the GFDL exchanged forecast with the GFS? Today's GFS was yesterday's GFDL and viceversa. Also, if GFS model run holds true, FL might get hit from the west and then from the east. And that's not taking 97L into the picture and the cold front approaching. Ughh, yea fake titties weather girl, it's going to rain ;)
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633. sunlinepr
9:05 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
632. WeatherfanPR
9:05 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Quoting spathy:


They do have a very large end cone of DOOM/uncertainty.

36 hrs is a good estimate of probability.
After that its just a probable estimate.



very large cone = very low confidence
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631. sunlinepr
9:05 PM GMT on October 25, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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