MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – Hurricane Lisa strengthened in the western Caribbean on Wednesday and headed for landfall in the Central American country of Belize.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Lissa had maximum sustained winds of 140 kph (85 mph). It was observed about 10 kilometers (5 mi) south of Belize City and was moving to the west at 19 km/h (12 mph).
The Belize National Emergency Management Organization said it expected the storm to make landfall between the coastal city of Dangariga and Belize City, but warned “residents across the country should be prepared.”
Ainar Gomez, deputy manager of Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, off the coast, said a drizzle had started and very strong winds were blowing, but no wind yet.
“All guests staying in beach units have been moved to less exposed rooms and have downsized beach chairs,” he said. “Everyone is waiting for it to happen.”
The Lisa Vortex is forecast to cross Belize into Guatemala and then into southeastern Mexico on Thursday.
The NHC warned of the possibility of torrential rains, floods and landslides. He said the storm could produce 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain over Belize, the Bay Islands, northern Guatemala and the Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.
Hurricane warnings were issued from Chetumal to Puerto Costa Maya on the island of Roatán and other islands of Honduras, north of Belize and south of the Mexican peninsula of Yucatán.
Lisa may re-emerge in the Gulf of Mexico, but as a tropical depression.
Further in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Martin reached hurricane strength on Wednesday, but forecasters said it posed no immediate threat to the mainland.
Martin had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (110 km/h). Its vortex was 790 miles (1,270 km) south-southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and was moving toward the east-northeast at 26 mph (43 km/h).