Hurricane Rina threatens Cancún and the rest of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula

Hurricane Rina, currently a Category 2 storm, could further mar the popular resort region, which has yet to recover from the damage Hurricane Wilma caused six years ago.

Victor Ruiz Garcia/Reuters
A tourist walks past palm trees swaying in winds caused by the proximity of Hurricane Rina off the coast of Quintana Roo in Cancun's hotel zone Tuesday. Rina is expected to make landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula early on Thursday after hitting Belize, both home to popular beach resorts, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Mexico’s premier resort town, Cancún, hunkered down Wednesday, as Hurricane Rina gathered strength and menaced the island of Cozumel and the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula.

It was expected to hit Cozumel Wednesday before moving toward the Caribbean coast and onwards to Cancún, a tourist area popular across the globe, but especially for American travelers.

The tourism director of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo told the Associated Press that currently there are about 83,000 tourists in the state. There are some 1,700 in Cozumel, which could be the hardest hit.

Along the stretch of beach, authorities set up emergency shelters and soldiers and marines evacuated fishing communities, while hotel owners boarded up windows and prepared for a loss of electricity. Cruise ships were also re-routed away from this stretch of the Caribbean to avoid storm surges.

Some were unconcerned. Roberto Martinez, who works at a bank in Mexico City and was en route to Cancún for a business trip, says the weather was not going to stop his plans. “As I have never experienced a hurricane, I am not nervous,” he says. In fact, he moved up his trip to make sure he did not get stuck in Mexico City.

Rina is currently a Category 2 storm, with winds at 110 mph on Wednesday morning, the US National Hurricane Center reported.

Cancún was hit with Hurricane Wilma six years ago, and the beaches have never recovered. Many beaches were washed away; hotel owners have instead built board walks that jut out from their hotels so that tourists can at least be near the water.

Heavy rains could prove problematic, not just for the resort area but further towards the Gulf. The state of Tabasco has been suffering from floods.

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