TS Richard Set to Become Hurricane; Hit Yucatan

October 22, 2010

Tropical Storm Richard headed toward Central America Friday, triggering a hurricane watch along the Honduras-Nicaragua border, a region already hit by months of heavy rains.

The 17th named storm in the Atlantic so far this year will strengthen into a hurricane this weekend before hitting Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted.

The coffee and sugar producing countries of Central America still are recovering from damage to infrastructure and crops after several serious storms this summer.

More wet weather could complicate the start of the harvests set to begin this month and next.

The government of Honduras has issued a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning for the coast of Honduras from the Nicaragua-Honduras border westward to Limon,” the hurricane center said.

After crossing the Yucatan, the remnants of Richard could emerge in Mexico’s oil-rich Bay of Campeche before possibly tracking toward the U.S. oil and natural gas production facilities in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the NHC and some computer weather models forecast.

Richard was located about 150 miles [240 kms] east of Cabo Gracias a Dios, an area known as Honduras’ and Nicaragua’s “mosquito coast” where indigenous groups live in wooden houses along rivers vulnerable to flooding.

Elsewhere, the NHC pointed to two low pressure systems in the Atlantic: one a hundred miles south of the Cape Verde Islands with a 30 percent chance of becoming a depression, and another about 1,000 miles east of the eastern Caribbean Islands with a 10 percent chance of strengthening.

The weather models forecast the Cape Verde system would pose no threat to land, other than maybe the Cape Verde Islands, as it moves northwest in the Atlantic closer to Africa than North America over the next several days.

It was too soon for the weather models to project where the other Atlantic system, with a 10 percent chance of developing, would make landfall, if at all.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in Mexico City and Scott DiSavino in New York; editing by Bill Trott)

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