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(5:30 p.m. EDT) -- Tropical Storm Richard, the seventeenth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, continues to slowly twist through the Western Caribbean and is expected to intensify and become a hurricane by the weekend.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. EDT update, Richard is located about 230 miles south-southeast of the popular cruise port of Grand Cayman, and 200 miles north-northeast from Cabo Gracias a Dios, which is on the Nicaragua-Honduras border. Maximum sustained winds are at 40 miles per hour, and the storm is moving toward the south-southeast at just 3 miles per hour.
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 tropical storm watch is now in effect for Honduras from the border with Nicaragua west to Limon. That means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. In Jamaica, NHC forecasters are predicting four to eight inches of rain, with up to 12 inches in isolated areas. The rainfall could produce life-threatening flash floods or mudslides.
Tropical Storm Richard is expected to strengthen and become a hurricane by the weekend and could reach Honduras by Sunday morning, according to the NHC update. Projections show the storm is headed in the direction of Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after the weekend.
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, is onboard Norwegian Epic this week and is reporting heavy rains in Cozumel today. Check out his picture of a soggy ship and read his take on cruisin' in the rain in our blog.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor