The Atlantic’s sixth tropical storm of the season is expected to strike the Yucatán Peninsula late Monday or early Tuesday and could intensify to a hurricane by the time it makes landfall, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Monday.
In their 5 p.m. Monday advisory, forecasters said Tropical Storm Franklin will near the coast Monday between Chetumal, on the Belize border, and Punta Allen, a popular bonefishing village. As it crosses the peninsula Monday night and Tuesday, churning out 60 mph winds, some areas could see as much as 12 inches of rain. The Mexican state of Quintana Roo is expected to get hit the hardest, raising the risk of dangerous flooding.
A hurricane hunter plane sent to investigate the storm Monday afternoon found the storm had a well-defined, but broad core, hinting that it was unlikely to undergo the kind of rapid intensification characteristic of smaller storms. Still, they warned that it could pick up enough steam crossing the warm Caribbean to become a weak hurricane by landfall.
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Monday evening, the storm was located 170 miles east, northeast of Belize city, traveling west, northwest at about 13 mph.
Franklin is also expected to inundate the coast with high storm surge, forecasters said, that could raise seas between and two and four feet above ground level in places. Tropical storm force winds extended about 140 miles from Franklin’s center.
Meanwhile, a second wave in the Central Atlantic has become more disorganized as it moves west at about 15 mph. Last week, forecasters gave the wave an 80 percent chance of becoming a cyclone. But on Monday they said unfavorable conditions unraveled the storm, although there’s a still a chance the system could rekindle later in the week.
Once Franklin rolls ashore, it’s likely to weaken as it crosses the peninsula. However, it could again pick up steam crossing the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before striking Mexico’s mainland, forecasters said.
If it keeps up its forward speed, the storm is expected to hit the mainland early Thursday. A hurricane watch is in effect for the Mexican Coast from Chetumal to Punta Allen. A tropical storm warning stretches from Belize City north to the Mexican border and from Chetumal to Campeche. A tropical storm watch covered the west coast of the peninsula from Campeche to Sabancuy.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich