MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Rina gathered a bit more steam in the Caribbean on Monday, spinning away from the already soaked coffee and sugar growing countries of Central America as it heads to the Mexican resort of Cancun.
Rina, the sixth named hurricane in the Atlantic this year, is expected to make landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early on Thursday after hitting Belize, both home to popular beach resorts, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
No coastal warnings were in effect on Monday.
Rina, still a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, was located 340 miles east southeast of Chetumal, Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 km per hour), the forecasters said in its last report on Monday.
“Strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours ... and Rina could become a major hurricane by Wednesday,” the center said.
Meteorologists at Weather Insight, a unit of Thomson Reuters, gave the storm a zero percent chance of entering the oil-producing region in the Gulf of Mexico. Other long-range computer forecasts vary, but none see the storm threatening Mexico’s energy installations.
Honduras, Central America’s largest coffee producer, saw its coast brushed by the storm but coffee-growing areas were largely spared from more rains after heavy downpours last week collapsed roads to farms before the harvesting season.
On Monday afternoon, skies were clear in Guatemala -- the region’s No. 2 coffee grower -- and in El Salvador, also a producer of high-quality arabica beans.
Farmers are still assessing damages from the earlier rains but national coffee associations say that infrastructure damage will be the biggest challenge.
Arabica coffee trading on ICE Futures U.S. got a boost from concerns about the hurricane after two weeks of rainstorms, that killed around 100 people across Central America.
Reporting by Patrick Rucker and Mica Rosenberg in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Todd Eastham