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Friday, February 3, 2023

Caribbean storm is ‘likely to gain force and hit Central America’

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A storm that has hurled rain on the southern Caribbean and the northern shoulder of South America is expected to hit Central America as a tropical storm over the weekend and eventually develop into a hurricane over the Pacific, forecasters said.

The fast-moving disturbance known as “Potential Tropical Cyclone Two” has been drenching parts of the Caribbean region since Monday – without ever meeting the criteria for a named tropical storm.

It was moving away from the northernmost part of Colombia late on Thursday and heading over open waters north of Panama on a path toward the coastal area around the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border.

A man uses a plastic bag to protect himself from the rain in Caracas, Venezuela

The storm is centred about 410 miles east of Bluefields on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

It is moving west at 20mph and projected to hit the Nicaragua-Costa Rica area as a tropical storm late on Friday or early on Saturday.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40mph — right at the edge of tropical storm force, through with ragged wind circulation, apparently due to its rapid advance westward.

The Hurricane Centre said that pace should be slowing.

A hurricane watch is in effect from the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border to Laguna de Perlas in Nicaragua.

The storm is expected to drop three to five inches of rain on parts of northern Colombia, then four to eight inches on Nicaragua and Costa Rica, posing the threat of flash flooding.

Venezuela and several Caribbean islands closed schools as the storm approached in recent days.

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