Matthew soaks parts of Central America as it loses punch over land; Lisa weakens over Atlantic
GUATEMALA CITY – GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Matthew was drenching parts of Central America Sunday, a day after it weakened to a tropical depression.
The storm's forward movement was slowing as its top winds fell, meaning it could become nearly stationary somewhere over Mexico by late Sunday. Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the slow pace was going to allow the storm to produce rainfall totals of 6 to 10 inches over parts of Guatemala and southern Mexico. The rain threatened to cause flash floods and mudslides.
Forecasters say Matthew has maximum sustained winds of about 30 mph (45 kph), and is expected to continue losing strength. The storm's center was located about 85 miles (135 kph) southeast of Villahermosa, Mexico, early Sunday.
Meanwhile, far from land in the open Atlantic, Lisa weakened to a tropical depression early Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph). Further weakening is expected.
Guatemalan authorities on Saturday urged people to stay off the roads as floods hit several towns in eastern and northern Guatemala.
Civil Defense operations commander Sergio Cabanas said flooding was reported in Izabal and Peten provinces, and there were concerns about people staying in their homes.
"The problem is that people have refused to be taken to shelters, because they want to keep watch on their possessions" out of fear of looting, Cabanas said.
In recent months, Guatemala has been hit by heavy rains that have resulted in about 274 deaths and about $1.1 billion in damage, according to government estimates.
In neighboring Belize, officials began evacuating people in three towns near the border with Guatemala after flood waters rose, said Peter Eden Martinez, the Cabinet representative in charge of emergency precautions for the flood-prone southern region.
In Mexico, the country's National Water Commission said it was preparing for rains with efforts to widen and deepen channels below dams as needed. Southern Mexico has also been hit by severe flooding in recent months.
Matthew made landfall as a tropical storm Friday on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast and quickly crossed into Honduras. It toppled power lines and left thousands without power for hours in Honduras.