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Strengthening Earl to blast Central America with flooding, damaging winds and dangerous surf

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Earl will threaten lives and property as it moves westward across Central America and southern Mexico during the rest of the week.

Areas from northern Nicaragua and Honduras to Belize, northern Guatemala and the Mexican state of Quintana Roo will experience strong winds, flooding and pounding surf as Earl makes landfall and moves inland on a west-northwest path.

Earl could become a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 74-95 mph (119-153 km/h) prior to making landfall.

"A landfall in Belize as a strong tropical storm or a hurricane will occur late Wednesday night," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Property damage, downed trees and beach erosion will occur. Residents and visitors should be prepared for travel disruptions and power outages.

"Beyond Wednesday night, the greatest danger from Earl will be from torrential rainfall, which can top 12 inches (300 mm) in some areas," Kottlowski said.

Rainfall of this intensity can lead to catastrophic flooding and mudslides. The worst conditions are expected over mountainous terrain.

In addition to flash flooding, major river flooding can occur along with road washouts and closures.

The heavy rainfall will be released as Earl weakens while moving over land during Thursday and early Friday.

There is a chance Earl will trek over water once again. Should Earl drift over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico later Friday, the system could strengthen, prior to making another landfall.

"Should Earl slip offshore on Friday, a final landfall near Veracruz, Mexico, is likely to occur Friday night or early Saturday," Kottlowski said.

During Friday coastal areas in the Mexico states of Campeche, Tabasco and Veracruz may experience building surf, coastal flooding and beach erosion.

How much restrengthening occurs will affect the magnitude of impacts in northeastern Mexico this weekend.

Eventually, Earl will lose its identity over the mountains of northeastern Mexico. However, some moisture, in the form of showers and thunderstorms could migrate northward into parts of Texas late this weekend into early next week.