Mexico prepares as Tropical Storm Franklin approaches

Mexican authorities prepared shelters, cleared storm drains and announced the closing of an airport near the Caribbean coast in anticipation of Tropical Storm Franklin's arrival to the country's Yucatan Peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported Monday afternoon that Franklin's top winds had strengthened to 60 mph (95 kph) in the northwestern Caribbean, where it was moving west-northwest at 13 mph (21 kph) off the coast of Honduras. The storm was located about 195 miles (310 kilometers) east of Chetumal, capital of Quintana Roo state.

The Quintana Roo state government said in a statement that the Chetumal airport near the border with Belize would close at 6 p.m. Shelters were being readied in the area with one specifically designated for the residents of Mahahual, a popular beach destination.

Franklin was expected to make landfall Monday evening at near hurricane strength, then cross over the Gulf Tuesday on a path to central Mexico. A hurricane watch was in effect for the coast of Mexico from Chetumal to Punta Allen, and with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the center, Belize could feel the effects by late afternoon.