Hurricane warnings issued as Tropical Storm Earl heads toward Belize, Mexico

BELMOPAN, Belize, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Earl, the first named storm in the Atlantic basin since June, has reached hurricane strength and is expected to bring flooding and mudslides to Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Earl, which is not expected to directly impact the United States, will bring heavy rainfall and strong winds from late Wednesday into Thursday. The storm was named Tuesday morning.

Earl has reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, qualifying it as a Category 1 hurricane, the NHC said. The storm system is still in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to make landfall near Belize City late Wednesday or early Thursday.

A hurricane warning is in effect in Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico, and throughout the coast of Belize and parts of Honduras and Guatemala.

Storm surge of 4 to 6 feet will hit coastal areas near the storm’s center.

Before it developed into a tropical storm, at least six people were killed in the Dominican Republic on Sunday and Monday as the storm system passed near the island. The storm is moving at a pace of 16 mph. It is the seventh time the name Earl has been used for an Atlantic storm.

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