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Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Rina grew into a Category 1 hurricane today and is expected to become stronger as it moves toward resorts on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Rina’s top winds are now 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, up from 40 mph earlier today, according to a center advisory at about 2 p.m. New York time. The system is the sixth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic storm season.
“Additional strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours and Rina is forecast to become a major hurricane by late Tuesday,” the center said. “Interests in Belize, the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the adjacent islands should monitor the progress of Rina.”
Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said Rina won’t be a threat to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.
Rina is forecast to approach Cancun by week’s end and then possibly curve east toward Cuba, the center’s tracking maps show. The system is about 360 miles east-southeast of Chetumal, Mexico, moving northwest at 5 mph.
A major hurricane has winds of at least 111 mph, capable of snapping trees, blowing down poorly built homes and creating a “high risk of injury or death to people, livestock and pets due to flying and falling debris,” the center said.
A U.S. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance airplane flew into the storm today and discovered it had grown rapidly in strength, the center said. Hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph extend 15 miles from its core and tropical storm-force winds of 39 mph or more reach out 115 miles.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. It’s closely watched by the energy industry because of the potential impact on oil and natural-gas production areas, including those in the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is the world’s biggest orange grower after Brazil.
Rina is the 17th named storm to form this year, which makes 2011 the seventh most-active season since record-keeping began in 1851, Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote on his blog today.
There were 19 named storms last year, while 2005 had the most with 28, including Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans.
--With assistance from Alex Morales in London, Yee Kai Pin in Singapore and Randall Hackley in Zurich. Editors: Charlotte Porter, Bill Banker
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