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Tropical storm to threaten Central America with flooding, mudslides and damaging winds

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A tropical depression is likely to become Tropical Storm Otto over the Caribbean Sea, prior to drifting westward with the threat of with flooding and strong winds over part of Central America this week.

Tropical Depression Sixteen formed early Monday morning and will continue to gather strength over the next couple of days.

This is a live loop of the southwestern Caribbean. (NOAA/Satellite)

The depression is located over the southwestern Caribbean Sea, just off the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras.

"The depression will begin to drift in a general westward direction at midweek and should become Tropical Storm Otto, prior to moving inland over Central America later this week," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"There is a chance the system becomes a hurricane prior to making landfall," Kottlowski said.

Since steering winds are light and will increase only slightly from the east during the latter part of the week, the exact track the system will take is uncertain, Kottlowski stated.

The window of possible landfall ranges from western Panama to northern Nicaragua.

This graphic shows the most likely path of movement later this week.

Once the system develops a strong circulation center and begins to take the anticipated westerly motion, a more definitive path will be revealed with an area of greatest impact.

Storm to threaten lives and property from Panama to Honduras, El Salvador

Regardless of the exact track, drenching showers and gusty thunderstorms will extend well out from the center of the storm.

During the first part of the week, some of the shower and thunderstorm activity will affect the northern part of Colombia.

Areas from eastern Panama to Honduras and El Salvador will be at an elevated risk for flash and urban flooding, mudslides and the possibility of winds strong enough to cause power outages later this week. Because of the slow movement of the storm, there will also be the risk of river flooding in the region.

People should not attempt to drive though flooded roads and be prepared to move to higher ground as the situation warrants.

Should the system ramp up to a strong tropical storm or hurricane, coastal inundation could occur near and north of the landfall of the eye.

Cruise, fishing and coastal resort interests in the region should monitor the track and strength of the tropical system closely. There is the potential for dangerous seas and surf to develop in the region.