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New tropical storm is named Paula

Hurricane warnings issued for Mexican coast; but future track unclear

MIAMI | October 11, 2010

Tropical Storm Paula formed Monday afternoon in the northwestern Caribbean prompting forecasters to post hurricane warnings along the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Gruesa northward to Cancun.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 o'clock update, Paula was posting top winds of 60 mph and the pressure of 1000 mb was falling. Forecasters suggest the storm could become a hurricane within the next 24 hours however the future track of the storm is very uncertain. Some computer models show it weakening and disapearing as it interacts with land by the end of the week, others suggest it could stay just offshore and reach southern Florida next week.

"A turn toward the north-northwest and then toward the north is expected late Tuesday and early Wednesday," said Michael Brennan, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. "On the forecast track, the center of Paula will begin moving away from the coast of Honduras tonight and Tuesday, and approach the coast within the hurricane warning area Tuesday night and Wednesday."

A hurricane warning has been issued for the coast of Mexico from Punta Gruesa northward to Cancun, including Cozumel. Additionally, a tropical storm warning has been issued from Chetumal northward to south of Punta Gruesa in Mexico.

In Honduras, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Limon eastward to the Honduras-Nicaragua border, including the Bay Islands.

As of Monday afternoon, Paula's maximum sustained winds were near 95 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, with higher gusts. "Additional strengthening is forecast, and Paula is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday." Brennan said. "Beyond that time, Paula may encounter some stronger winds aloft on the southern edge of the westerlies. The intensity guidance shows a broad peak from 36 to 72 hours and then slow weakening at days 4 and 5."

Currently, the National Hurricane Center said, Paula's tropical storm winds extend outward up to 110 kilometers (70 miles) from the center.

"Paula is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 6 inches over northeastern Nicaragua, eastern Honduras, and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico," Brennan said. "Isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible in areas of mountainous terrain in Nicaragua and Honduras, where these rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides."

Brennan said a strong surge as a result of Paula is expected to produce coastal flooding along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and on the Bay Islands of Honduras. "Near the coasts, the surge will be accompanied by large waves," he added.

BNO News contributed to this story

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