MEXICO CITY – The Latest on Tropical Storm Nate (all times local):
Tropical Storm Nate has formed off the coast of Nicaragua and is on a forecast track that shows it eventually approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Nate's maximum sustained winds Thursday morning are near 40 mph (65 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says strengthening is likely as the storm moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night and Friday.
The storm is centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) south Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and is moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph). The storm's current forecast track shows it possibly approaching the Gulf Coast over the weekend as a hurricane.
A tropical depression developing off the coast of Nicaragua is expected to dump heavy rains on parts of Central America before strengthening into a hurricane that could touch Mexico and eventually reach the U.S. mainland, forecasters and officials said.
Mexico's government issued a hurricane watch from Punta Herrero to Cabo Catoche in the state of Quintana Roo with the storm expected to reach the resort-dotted stretch of coast late Friday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The long-term forecast showed the storm reaching the U.S. Gulf coast as a hurricane by Sunday.
The tropical depression had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was located about 95 miles (155 kilometers) south-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua late Wednesday night. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (9 kph), the hurricane center said.
The center said 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) of rain were expected across parts of Nicaragua, with strong and possibly dangerous rains also likely in Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. The storm was projected to cross into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.