Earl downgraded to tropical storm as it hits Belize

Graphic by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell
Caption
Graphic by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell

UPDATE 8:17 a.m.:

Earl has weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall in Belize early Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Earl’s maximum sustained winds decreased to near 65 mph (105 kph) with additional weakening expected as the storm moves farther inland. Earl is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by Thursday night or Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Mexico has discontinued all warnings associated with the storm and Belize has replaced its hurricane warning with a tropical storm warning.

Earl is centered about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Belize City, Belize, and is moving west near 15 mph (24 kph).

INITIAL REPORT:

Hurricane Earl drenches the coast of Belize and Honduras in the Caribbean as it now threatens Mexico and Guatemala with torrential rains.

The storm was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane late Wednesday afternoon. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Earl is expected to have winds of 75 mph. Heavy rains may continue to impact southern Mexico through Saturday as Earl crosses the Yucatan Peninsula, the Associated Press reported.

According to the National Hurricane Center, rainfall estimated amounts could be up to a foot over portions of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula through tonight. Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula could see storm surge 4 to 6 feet above normal tide.

This is the first named storm in the Atlantic since June. Earl is moving west at about 22 mph and is expected to slow during the next couple of days.