Earl upgraded to hurricane, expected to hit Belize
Hurricane Earl took aim at Belize on Wednesday after grazing the islands north of Honduras, threatening to hit the small Central American nation with howling winds, pounding surf and heavy rain and flooding.
The storm was officially upgraded to a hurricane Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.
On the current forecast track, the core of Earl is expected to make landfall in Belize on Wednesday night or early Thursday, the center said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the entire coast of Belize, along with small portions of Mexico and Honduras.
As of 5 p.m. ET, Earl had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was located 150 miles east of Belize City. It was chugging to the west at 14 mph.
"The greatest danger from Earl will be from torrential rainfall, which can top 12 inches in some areas," AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.
Rainfall of this intensity can lead to catastrophic flooding and mudslides. The worst conditions are expected over mountainous terrain, AccuWeather said.
People living in flood-prone areas and along the coast are being cautioned to prepare for an early move to safer ground, according to Belize's National Emergency Management Organization.
Shelters are now open across the country to house evacuees.
For coastal areas, there is also a risk for flooding, especially in low-lying areas such as Belize City, the Belize weather service warned.
Earl is the second hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. The first was an unusual January hurricane, Alex.
Since 1980, only three hurricanes have made landfall in Belize, according to meteorologist Eric Holthaus. Earl would be the 4th.
( Source )