Tropical Storm Earl formed just before noon Tuesday, Bay News 9 has reported. It’s the fifth named storm of the 2016 hurricane season.
An U.S. Air Force hurricane hunter plane spotted the tropical storm in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, the National Hurricane Center reported. It is moving west at 22 mph with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph. The center issued its fifth tropical storm warning at noon.
The storm has caused at least six deaths in the Dominican Republican, the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tuesday that Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras. All three countries issued tropical storm warnings for some areas and a hurricane watch was issued for part of the Mexican coast.
The wet storm is expected to dump 2 to 4 inches of rain on Jamaica as it swings by. As much as 8 to 12 inches could swamp parts of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and the Yucatan peninsula, with some isolated areas is Mexico and Belize receiving 16 inches, the Miami Herald reported.
Forecasters warned the heavy rain could raise the risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. A storm surge could also push up water levels by 2 to 4 feet off the coast of Belize and the eastern Yucatan peninsula, north of the storm’s landfall. The coast could also get slammed with damaging waves, forecasters warned.
On Sunday, Earl was a weaker tropical wave but knocked down power lines and started a fire that killed six passengers on a bus filled with people returning from a beach excursion.