After passing over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Franklin has steadily intensified over the Bay of Campeche and is on the brink of becoming 2017’s first hurricane in the Atlantic basin.
The storm, packing winds of 70 mph, is on a collision course with Mexico’s east coast, south of Texas. Riding over warm water, it is expected to make landfall Wednesday night as a hurricane containing peak winds up to 85 mph.
Hurricane warnings are in effect from Puerto de Veracruz to Cabo Rojo. Fortunately, the section of coastline that will be hit the hardest is quite rural and unpopulated, but life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides from the rain will affect a large area. Rainfall totals of four to eight inches could be seen in the hurricane warning area, with isolated amounts up to 15 inches.
Near and north of where the center crosses the coastline, a storm surge or rise in water level of four to six feet above normal tide levels is possible.
Damaging winds are also likely. Tropical-storm-force winds extend about 140 miles northward from the center and up to 70 miles on the south side of the storm.
The storm is being carefully monitored. Three aircraft from three agencies are conducting investigation. The Air Force C-130 is flying in and out of the inner core, as is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration P-3. In addition, NASA’s unmanned Global Hawk is flying high above the storm. Data collected from these missions are fed into weather models and help forecasters assess the intensity and structure of the cyclone.