Mexico lifts storm warnings as Earl’s strength diminishes
Hurricane Earl was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday Aug. 4 after slamming into the coast of Belize with winds of 80 mph (130 kph) and moving inland over Guatemala and Mexico with heavy rains.
The Mexican government discontinued all warnings related to Earl reflecting the lower threat risk from the storm. Earl is expected to move across northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico Thursday and emerge near or over the southern Bay of Campeche Friday night. Residents of coastal areas along the Bay of Campeche were advised to stay alert to possible storm-related developments as Earl moved into the Gulf of Mexico.
Earl made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Belize City and was moving roughly westward, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. As it crossed northern Guatemala, Earl had sustained winds near 65 mph (105 kph). It was expected to continue weakening to a tropical depression by Thursday night or Friday morning.
Mexico discontinued all warnings associated with the storm and Belize replaced its hurricane warning with a tropical storm warning. Early Thursday the storm was centered about 90 miles (145 km) west of Belize City and was moving west near 15 mph (24 kph).
The hurricane center said heavy rains would be a danger in southern Mexico through Saturday as Earl crosses the Yucatan Peninsula into the states of Tabasco and Veracruz.
On Wednesday, Earl raked the northern coast of Honduras with heavy rain. Officials said a big wave capsized a lobster fishing boat in the Caribbean, but all but two of the 83 people on board were rescued. The navy was looking for the two missing. Authorities also rescued four families in the coastal city of Trujillo after a river flooded.
Lisandro Rosales, head of Honduras’ emergency commission, said there were reports of large numbers of trees and utility poles being knocked down. Schools and universities closed across Honduras’ coastal provinces, as did two commercial airports.
In Belize, the government opened storm shelters and used radio and television broadcasts to urge residents of low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
Officials also ordered the international airport in Belize City to close, and archaeological reserves and national parks were shut. The Belize Tourism Board announced that cruise ship calls had been canceled for this week.
Employees of the Caribbean Villas Hotel, in San Pedro on Belize’s Ambergris Caye, pulled in beach chairs and chaise longues as rain began to fall on the popular beach resort.
“Anything that’s not anchored in, we’ve pulled back and out of the way,” said hotel manager Paul Jewitt.