Caribbean storm expected to gain strength and hit Central America ::


– A storm that dumped rain over the southern Caribbean and the northern shoulder of South America is expected to hit Central America as a tropical storm over the weekend and eventually develop into a hurricane on the Pacific, forecasters said Thursday.

The fast-moving disturbance known simply as “Potential Tropical Cycle Two” has inundated parts of the Caribbean region since Monday without ever meeting the criteria for a tropical name.

It was moving away from the northernmost part of Colombia on Thursday evening and heading for open waters north of Panama on a path to the coastal area around the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border.

The storm was centered about 410 miles (665 kilometers) east of Bluefields on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast, the US National Hurricane Center said. It was moving west at 20 mph (31 km/h) and was expected to hit the Nicaragua-Costa Rica region as a tropical storm Friday evening or Saturday morning.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km/h) – just at the limit of tropical storm strength, with an irregular wind pattern, apparently due to its rapid westerly progress. The Hurricane Center said the pace should slow.

A hurricane watch was in effect from the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border to Laguna de Perlas in Nicaragua.

The storm was expected to drop 3 to 5 inches (75 to 125 millimeters) of rain over parts of northern Colombia, then 4 to 8 inches (125 to 250 millimeters) over Nicaragua and Costa Rica, posing the threat of sudden floods.

Venezuela and several Caribbean islands have closed schools as the storm approached in recent days.


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