Franklin, likely to be hurricane, aims at Mexico Gulf coast

Tropical Storm Franklin took aim at Mexico's central Gulf coast after a relatively mild run across the Yucatan Peninsula, with forecasts saying it would strengthen into a hurricane before making its second landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Franklin began gaining strength after getting over open water again, with its maximum sustained winds quickly rising to 65 mph (105 kph) by early Wednesday. The storm was expected to gain more power as it moved across the lower reaches of the southern Gulf of Mexico and likely would be a hurricane by Wednesday evening, the center said.

Franklin's center was 240 miles (386 kilometers) east-northeast of Veracruz early Wednesday and it was heading west at 13 mph.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Mexico's coast from Puerto de Veracruz to Tuxpan. A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Mexican coast east of Puerto de Veracruz to Ciudad del Carmen and from north of Tuxpan to Barra del Tordo.

Mexico Civil Protection director Ricardo de la Cruz said Tuesday that the storm's impact on Yucatan was not as bad as initially feared, with some trees down and power out in some areas. But, he warned, "The second impact could even be stronger than the first."

Forecasters said Franklin's rains could cause flash floods and mudslides in the mountains of central Mexico. Four to eight inches of rain were forecast for mainland areas in the storm's path, with localized amounts of up to 12 inches.