Hurricane Rina Barrels Towards Cozumel, Could Hit US

Hurricane Rina continues barreling through the western Caribbean as a powerful category 2 storm.

Rina still has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and is moving slowly to the west-northwest at 5 mph.

Tropical storm conditions are expected Wednesday in the Eastern Yucatán Peninsula and Cozumel. Hurricane conditions are expected Thursday.

Because Rina is a slow-mover, a lot of rain will fall with the storm, about 8 to 16 inches.

A storm surge of 5 to 7 feet will occur near the center and to the right of the center of the storm.

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The storm is not expected to intensify much further before landfall; however, it's still forecast to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near the city on Cancún.

An additional question is whether Rina will impact the U.S.

An eventual turn toward the East is expected by Friday when the storm will have moved away from the Yucatán Peninsula.

Because Rina is a small storm, great fluctuations in its strength can occur. Land interaction could greatly weaken the storm as well as strong wind shear over the Gulf of Mexico.

A trough will dig into the eastern U.S. over next few days, which will help steer it to the east. The current forecast track has the storm weakening to a tropical storm and the center staying south of South Florida and North of Cuba this weekend.

This is a very small area, though (about 90miles), so any slight fluctuation in this track and we could be looking at landfall in either landmass late in the weekend.

Even if the center of the storm does not directly go over land, hurricane force winds extend up to 25 miles out from the center of the storm, with tropical storm force winds extending up to 115 miles out from the center.

Rina's impacts could be felt for miles either way.

Maria Molina is a weather anchor for Fox News Channel.

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