Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize early Thursday, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (129 kph).
The storm is pushing west at 14 mph (23 kph). The Category 1 storm continues to pound the area with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge after spreading drenching rain over the Central American country Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
After it made landfall near Belize City the storm is forecast to move over the southern Yucatan Peninsula or northern Guatemala on Thursday. But the storm is expected to diminish in strength as it moves over land, deprived of the moisture source of the Caribbean.
The country’s National Meteorological Service tells CNN there have been widespread power outages in the country.
A hurricane warning is in place from Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico, south to the Belize-Guatemala border. A tropical storm warning was in effect north of Puerto Costa Maya to Punta Allen.
Hurricane force winds only extend 15 miles from the center of the storm but tropical storm-force winds reach out 140 miles (225 km).
Over a foot of rain is possible and will bring the threat of flooding and landslides in higher terrain. Other areas, including portions of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico could get between 8 and 12 inches of rain.
Rainfall could reach 18 inches in areas of Mexico and Belize, which could result in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Shore areas close to the center of the storm will experience 4 to 6 feet of storm surge.