Tropical Storm Nana is moving quickly toward Central America and has just enough time to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall later Wednesday or early Thursday in Belize.
Nana, as of 2 p.m. ET, was releasing sustained winds of 60 mph with stronger gusts.
“Nana is forecast to become a hurricane later today or tonight before it reaches the coast of Belize,” the National Hurricane Center said.
It could bring a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels when it makes landfall.
A hurricane warning has been posted for the coast of Belize from Belize City southward to the Guatemala border, the NHC said. A hurricane watch is in effect from Belize City north to the border with Mexico.
Nana will move near, but north of Honduras’ coast. The country’s northern coast, from Punta Patuca westward to the Guatemala border, remains under a tropical storm watch. The coast is likely to be battered by tropical-storm-force winds, heavy rain and storm surge throughout the day.
The most recent hurricane to make landfall in Belize was Earl in 2016, tweeted Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.
Record-breaking 2020 season continues
This record-breaking hurricane season continues to churn out storms. Nana and Tropical Storm Omar are the earliest 14th and 15th named storms in the Atlantic basin, respectively, each breaking a record from the 2005 season.
The previous record for the earliest “N” storm was Nate on September 6, 2005. The old record for the earliest named “O” storm was Ophelia, named a day later.
Omar on Wednesday was out over open water in the Atlantic and moving away from the US. It is expected to weaken throughout the day on Thursday.
Meantime across the Atlantic, the hurricane center is watching two areas of possible formation this week.
If either becomes tropical and gains enough strength to earn a name, it would be the earliest 16th named storm. The previous record is held by Philippe, which formed on September 17, 2005.
On average, the Atlantic only sees 11 named storms throughout a hurricane season. The 2020 peak is still more than a week away.