Forecasters say Tropical Storm Grace approached hurricane intensity Tuesday evening as it headed away from Jamaica and towards Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The National Hurricane Center reported in an 11 p.m. EDT update that the storm’s eye was about 145 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman and 60 miles west of Negril, Jamaica. It had sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and was travelling west at 14 miles per hour.
After Fred, which deteriorated to a depression after crossing over land in the Southeast on Monday, Grace is the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Grace is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane midday Wednesday as it approaches the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is expected to make landfall early Thursday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Grace will move away from the western coast of Jamaica this evening,” the NHC said. “Grace is forecast to move near or over the Cayman Islands late tonight and early Wednesday, and then approach the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday.”
A hurricane watch has been issued for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from Cabo Catoche to Punta Allen.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula from Cancun to Punta Herrero and a hurricane watch for the Cayman Islands.
The government of Mexico also issued a tropical storm warning along the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche westward to Dzilam and a tropical storm watch was issued for the north and west coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula from west of Dzilam Campeche.
Grace follows five other named storms in the Atlantic basin so far this year — Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa and Fred. Of those five, Elsa was the only one to gain hurricane strength.