Tropical Storm Rina is expected to become a hurricane within the next 24 hours. Here's what the massive storm looks like from above.
- Tropical Storm Rina, currently near southern Mexico and Belize, is expected to start turning north and intensifying by Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. The cyclone poses no threat to the U.S. at this time. (Image acquired early Monday by NOAA/GOES East)
A storm that just a day ago looked like a disorganized tangle of cotton fluff (from space, anyway) has pumped itself up into the sixth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season. Say hola! to Hurricane Rina, a god-sized wheel of rain and thunder cycling near southern Mexico and Belize:
Rina formed in leaps and bounds, intensifying from a stirred-up area of low pressure to a tropical depression to a named storm all in the span of this weekend. You can see its tumultuous birth occurring in time lapse in this wonderful time-lapse movie from NASA and NOAA. The system went full hurricane around 2 p.m. today, according to the latest assessment from the National Hurricane Center. It rates a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale but won't remain weak for long; the NHC sees Rina becoming a major hurricane of Category-3-or-above strength by Tuesday evening.
The hurricane is topped with staggeringly tall cloud columns as chilly as -63 degrees Fahrenheit, an indicator of the storm's magnitude. Down at sea level, ocean waters as warm as a tepid bowl of menudo are feeding Rina's hunger for energy, and low wind sheer is allowing it to swell and move northward toward the Gulf of Mexico. However, right now Rina is not expected to make it to the Gulf. The way the winds are moving seem to confine the tempest to the northwest Caribbean.
Here's the latest track forecast for Hurricane Rina: