MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Hurricane Rina intensified in the Caribbean today, moving farther from recently rain-hit coffee and sugar-growing countries in Central America as it bears down on the popular Mexican resort Cancun.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Rina, the sixth hurricane in the Atlantic this year, is expected to make landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early on Thursday after hitting Belize, both of them home to beach getaways.
Authorities have issued a hurricane watch for the east coast of the Yucatan from Chetumal to Punta Gruesa.
Rina, now a Category Two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, was located 305 miles (490 km) east southeast of Chetumal, Mexico with maximum sustained winds of near 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), the forecasters said.
“Additional strengthening is forecast during the next day or so,” the Miami-based hurricane center said. “And Rina could become a major hurricane by tonight or early Wednesday.”
The hurricane is not expected to threaten Mexico’s oil-producing region in the Gulf of Mexico.
Honduras, Central America’s largest coffee producer, had its coast brushed by the storm but coffee-growing areas were largely spared from more rains after major downpours last week ravaged roads to farms before the harvesting season.
On Monday, skies were clear in Guatemala — the region’s No. 2 coffee grower — and in El Salvador, also a producer of high-quality arabica beans.