Honduran emergency officials urged coastal residents to evacuate low-lying areas Monday and Mexico issued a hurricane warning as Tropical Storm Paula battered the Caribbean coast with strong winds and rain.
Paula formed Monday off Honduras and was expected to develop into a hurricane by Tuesday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
It had winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and was centered about 90 miles (140 kilometers) east-northeast of Isla Guanaja, Honduras, the center said.
Paula is expected to dump from 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain in eastern Honduras, the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and northern Belize, it said.
The government of Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the country’s Caribbean coast from Punta Gruesa north to the resort city of Cancun and the island of Cozumel. Warnings are issued when hurricane conditions are almost certain to occur. Belize issued a tropical-storm watch for its coast.
The Honduran National Emergencies Commission issued a tropical-storm warning for the coastal provinces of Gracias a Dios, Islas de la Bahia, Colon, Atlantida and Yoro.
The commission also warned of possible flooding and landslides and suggested residents avoid fishing trips or engaging in water sports.
Forecasters said the storm would produce heavy rains that could cause flash floods and mudslides, especially in the mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras. It said isolated, mountainous areas in Honduras could get as many as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain.
Coastal flooding from heavy waves was also expected along the eastern coast of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula and the Bay Islands of Honduras.