Earl downgraded to tropical storm after drenching Belize

Hurricane Earl makes landfall in Belize. Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last Updated Aug 4, 2016 11:01 AM EDT

BELMOPAN -- The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Hurricane Earl to a tropical storm on Thursday after it made landfall near Belize City, Belize. Initial maximum sustained winds of 80 mph decreased to near 65 mph as the storm moved further inland.

Mexico discontinued all storm warnings, and Belize replaced its Hurricane Warning with a Tropical Storm Warning.

Heavy rains are forecast to be a danger in southern Mexico through Saturday as Earl crosses the Yucatan Peninsula and the states of Tabasco and Veracruz, where there could be life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center also warned of a storm surge raising water levels off the coast of Belize and the eastern Yucatan Peninsula by as much as 6 feet. Near the coast, the center said, there could be "large and damaging waves," however the surge would subside as the storm moved further inland.

In Belize, the government opened storm shelters and used radio and television broadcasts to urge residents of low-lying areas to move to higher ground.


A man shields from the rain with an umbrella as Hurricane Earl passes the coast of La Ceiba, Honduras, August 3, 2016.


Earlier, the storm dumped rain on nearly all of Honduras, where officials reported a lobster fishing boat was hit by a large wave in the Caribbean and capsized. Most of the 83 people on board were rescued, but the navy was looking for two missing.

Authorities rescued four families in the coastal city of Trujillo after a river jumped its banks.

Lisandro Rosales, head of Honduras' emergency commission, said there were reports of large numbers of trees and utility poles being knocked down.

Schools and universities closed across Honduras' Atlantic provinces as did two commercial airports.