Miami (AFP) Oct 21, 2010
A tropical storm which formed in the southwestern Caribbean on Thursday could reach hurricane status and strike the storm-battered Yucatan Peninsula, US forecasters warned.
Tropical Storm Richard is the 17th named storm of the season, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its 0000 GMT advisory.
Richard was some 230 miles (375 kilometers) southeast of Grand Cayman and 190 miles (310 kilometers) northeast of the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, packing winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts.
Richard is "expected to intensify," the NHC said, and the storm "could become a hurricane over the weekend."
The storm was traveling towards the southeast at about nine kilometers (six miles) per hour, but was expected to turn slightly towards the northwest and pick up speed over the next days.
On its forecast track Richard is expected to dump rain on northern Honduras and Belize as well as parts of Nicaragua and Guatemala, then strike Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.
In mid-October the small but powerful Hurricane Paula drenched Mexico's resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula before churning toward Cuba. The storm caused no serious damage, Mexican civil protection officials said.
However any more rain raised the troubling prospect of renewed flooding in already waterlogged Central America and Mexico after weeks of devastation from heavy rains.
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