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Atlantic tropical storm to aim for Central America, Mexico at midweek

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A budding tropical system in the Caribbean Sea will impact parts of Central America and Mexico with tropical storm or hurricane conditions at midweek.

A tropical system, over the central Caribbean, located south of Hispaniola, will continue move westward this week.

"There is the potential for the tropical system to strengthen rather quickly," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"This system should become Tropical Storm Earl and could become a hurricane before moving inland late Wednesday or Wednesday night," Kottlowski said.

All interests in the central and western Caribbean should continue to monitor the track and strength of the system. Bathers and boaters can expect building seas and an increasing risk of rip currents into midweek.

While the heaviest rain and thunderstorms will stay south, spotty showers and locally gusty thunderstorms will occur in portions of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti through Monday night.

Depending on the track and strength of the system, more significant gusty squalls and rainfall could brush Jamaica on Tuesday and then the Cayman Islands during Tuesday night.

"The center of the system will approach Belize and the southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with heavy rain and gusty winds at midweek," Kottlowski said.

The extent and severity of the rain and wind will depend on the strength of the system at landfall. Flooding and sporadic power outages can occur even if a minimal hurricane or tropical storm moves ashore.

Once over land, the system will weaken, but locally torrential rainfall and gusty winds will continue in the region during Wednesday night and Thursday.

There is a chance the system will move back out over the waters of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico before the end of the week, where renewed strengthening could occur, Kottlowski stated.

"A second landfall could occur in northeastern Mexico during Friday or this weekend, depending on the system's track," he said.

While dry air surrounds the system, disruptive winds in the path of the system are decreasing and water temperatures are in the middle 80s F (29-30 C).

The warm water, diminishing disruptive winds and a decrease in forward speed should cause the system to strengthen to a tropical storm and perhaps a hurricane, prior to reaching Central America.