The Central American nation of Belize and portions of northern Honduras are under hurricane watches and warnings this morning. Tropical Storm Earl is located just off the Honduran coast and is expected to strengthen to hurricane status later today.

The storm which began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa late last week has raced across the Atlantic over the past few days. It is poised to make a landfall according to the National Hurricane Center as a hurricane late tonight or in the very early hours of Thursday morning.

The 2 AM update on the storm showed maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm would need to have its sustained winds reach 74 mph or greater to be classified as a hurricane. The motion of the storm continues to be westerly at 14 mph.

The projected path of the storm should bring the center of circulation across Belize and into the southern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula. After landfall the system is expected to weaken to tropical depression status. The official track from the Hurricane Center suggests that Earl could reemerge over the southernmost portion of the Gulf of Mexico and could strengthen back to tropical storm status before making a second landfall on Mexico's Gulf coast.

The system is not expected to have any affect on the northern Gulf states although the system could produce a better chance of rain and thunderstorms early next week as moisture from the system could create instability in the atmosphere over southern Louisiana and southeast Texas.

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