Tropical storm Beta to hit Central America as Category 1 hurricane

Beta's slow pace of just two miles an hour means it will keep intensifying

Tropical storm Beta, which formed in the Caribbean region, has become the record-breaking 23rd storm to occur during the Atlantic hurricane season in 2005. The storm is currently threatening Central America, as it continues to gain more and more power, the US National Hurricane Center said. Tropical storm Beta

At 0800 GMT, Beta was located in the southwest Caribbean Sea about 175 miles off the coast of Nicaragua and about 45 miles southeast of the Colombian island of San Andres, packing winds of about 65 miles per hour, according to the Miami-based centre.

Thursday night, Beta's 65-mph winds were 35 miles south-southeast of San Andres Island, a Colombian territory off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. It's expected to hit San Andres today, then turn west over the weekend and slam Nicaragua by Sunday.

Forecasters predict it will develop into a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, meaning a storm with winds from 74 to 95 mph. Its slow pace of just two miles an hour means it will keep intensifying until it makes landfall in Nicaragua.

Rain and wind from Tropical Storm Beta lashed Caribbean islands off Nicaragua's jungle-clad coast on Thursday and was forecast to strengthen to a hurricane and dump water onto already sodden hills inland.

The storm could dump up to 20 inches of rain over parts of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, already sodden after weeks of rains spun off by Hurricanes Stan and Wilma. The slow-moving storm was drifting to the north in the warm Caribbean, and hurricane conditions were expected over San Andres on Friday before crashing into Nicaragua's coast over the weekend.

Weather forecasters switched to the Greek alphabet for storm names after using up their annual list of 21 names for the season with Wilma, which was at one point the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.

Source: agenices

AP photo

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Author`s name Olga Savka