26 October 2011 by Luke McCormick
A hurricane warning is currently in place for the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun, while a tropical storm warning is in place for the area from Chetumal to Punta Gruesa.
Tourists are being evacuated from the affected areas and cruise ships have been forced to alter course in the Caribbean as Hurricane Rina strengthens off the Mexican coast.
The Foreign Office said in a statement: "Hurricane Rina has strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane and is expected to make landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday 27 October. Mexican authorities have issued a hurricane watch from Punta Gruesa to Cancun and travellers are advised to monitor progress and keep in touch with advice from the local authorities."
Forecaster predict Rina will likely strengthen to a category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115mph as it nears landfall before rolling over the popular cruise port island of Cozumel then along the coast to the popular resort of Cancun.
The forecast track shows the hurricane moving east towards Cuba by the weekend, although a senior hurricane forecaster in US said it could also move towards southern Florida.
State tourism director Juan Carlos Gonzalez Hernandez said there were about 83,000 tourists currently in the state, with about 45,000 of those in stretch of coast south of Cancun that includes Tulum and Playa de Carmen, and almost 28,000 in Cancun.
There were only about 1,719 tourists in Cozumel, and many of them were leaving, he said. "In the case of Cozumel, which could be hit hardest, people are leaving of their own accord and are cutting their reservations short," he said.
Local authorities have evacuated the low-lying fishing village of Punta Allen, just south of Tulum, and set up emergency shelters in other areas.
The storm has the potential to produce as much as 16 inches of rain over parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, raising water levels in some places by as much as five to seven feet.
British Airways said in a statement: "The projected path of Hurricane Rina may cause disruption on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, affecting flights to and from Cancun (CUN) and Cozumel (CZM)."
Customers scheduled to travel to the affected areas between 25 and 29 October are being offered the opportunity to rebook tickets.