(5:30 a.m. EDT) -- Tropical Storm Richard, the seventeenth named storm of the active Atlantic hurricane season, has intensified as it heads toward Belize and could become a hurricane today.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 4 a.m. CDT update, Richard is located about 25 miles east of Isla Guanaja, Honduras and 190 miles east-southeast of Belize City. Maximum sustained winds remain at 70 miles per hour, and Richard could reach the 74 m.p.h. needed to become a hurricane by this afternoon. Hurricane watches and storm warnings remain in place for parts of Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The storm is already bringing heavy rain and winds to the Honduras coast.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
At this point there are no cruise ship itinerary changes -- we'll keep you posted.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
A hurricane warning is in effect for Belize and Honduras from the Limon westward to Puerto Cortes and the Bay Islands, which include Roatan. In this case, it means that hurricane conditions are possible in around 12-18 hours. A hurricane watch is in place for Honduras from east of Limon to the Nicaragua-Honduras border and the east coast of Yucatan Mexico from Punta Gruesa to Chetumal.
A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the east coast of Yucatan, Mexico from Punta Gruesa to Chetumal, for Honduras from west of Puerto Cortes to the border with Guatemala and east from Limon the Nicaragua-Honduras border.
Richard is expected to produce heavy rainfall which may begin to affect north-eastern Honduras today.
Projections show the storm is headed in the direction of Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula from late Sunday to early Monday.
Representatives from NCL, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival -- the four lines have ships in the Western Caribbean (but not within the storm's cone) -- said there are no changes to report at this time.
In a related note, John Deiner, Cruise Critic's managing editor, has been onboard Norwegian Epic this week and reported heavy rains in Cozumel. Check out his picture of a soggy ship and read his take on cruisin' in the rain in our blog.