Tropical Storm Earl upgraded to hurricane, bears down on Belize

This NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, August 3, 2016, at 9:45 AM EDT shows mostly clear skies across much of the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Earl is out of view, moving steadily westward near 14 MPH and approaching Honduras and Belize. Much of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Lesser Antilles remain under generally clear conditions. (Weather Underground via AP)

MIAMI (AP) —–  Tropical Storm Earl has been upgraded to a hurricane as the system bears down on Belize, threatening flash floods and mud slides.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Earl had top sustained winds Wednesday of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving west at 14 mph (22 kph) toward Belize and was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of Belize City.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the coast of Belize. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Honduran coast.

Forecasters said Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and was likely to blow past Honduras’ Roatan Island, a popular tourist destination, on Wednesday afternoon.

On Sunday, Earl was a weaker tropical wave but knocked down power lines and started a fire that killed six passengers on a bus in the Dominican Republic.

According to Storm Team 8, the storm will likely have little if any impact on Tampa Bay area.

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