MIAMI – Tropical Storm Franklin, the sixth named storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, formed in the northwestern Caribbean off the coast of Honduras and could develop into a hurricane before making landfall in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday.
The storm is about 330 kilometers (205 miles) east of Belize City and some 350 kilometers (215 miles) east-southeast of Chetumal, the capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, the NHC said in its 1500 GMT advisory.
Franklin, which has maximum sustained winds of 95 kph (60 mph), is moving west-northwest at 22 kph (14 mph).
“Strengthening is forecast until the center reaches the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula, and Franklin could be near hurricane strength by the time landfall occurs this evening or tonight. Some weakening is likely while the system moves across the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday,” the NHC said.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the Mexican coast from Chetumal to Punta Allen, while a tropical storm warning has been issued for the area from Belize City north to the Mexican border.
A tropical storm warning is also in effect on the Mexican Caribbean coast from Chetumal to Campeche, while a tropical storm watch is in effect from Campeche to Sabancuy.
Heavy rains “are possible across the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and Belize through Wednesday, with the highest amounts over the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods,” the NHC said.
The first tropical storm of the 2017 season was Arlene, which formed in the mid-Atlantic in April, more than a month before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.
Tropical Storm Bret formed on June 19 and was followed by Cindy, a “no-name storm,” Don and Emily.
Tropical Storm Emily made landfall on July 31 on Anna Maria Island, located south of Tampa, Florida, after forming quickly in the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a May 25 report that 11 to 17 tropical storms would form during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, with between five and nine of the systems becoming hurricanes, and two to four of the hurricanes reaching a high category on the Saffir-Simpson scale of strength.