Tropical Storm Grace is barreling toward Mexico Wednesday, threatening to bring with it hurricane-force winds, life-threatening rip tides and up to half a foot of rain.
After moving away from Jamaica, Tropical Storm Grace was moving toward the Cayman Islands early Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It’s then expected to reach the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday, the NHC said.
As of early Wednesday morning, Grace was 85 miles east southeast of Grand Cayman with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, the NHC said.
The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength by Wednesday night and could strengthen even more by the time the center reaches the eastern Yucatan Peninsula.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula from Cancun to Punta Herrero, including Cozumel, the NHC said.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cayman Islands. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, whereas a watch indicates hurricane conditions are possible in that area.
Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula may get 3 to 6 inches of rain from the storm, which could lead to flash and urban flooding. Swells across the area are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, the NHC said.
Once Grace makes landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula, it is expected to continue westward and cross into the Bay of Campeche after losing some strength, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Once there, the storm will regenerate and is forecast to become a hurricane again before making another landfall along the central coast of Mexico by Friday evening.
Overnight Monday into Tuesday, Grace’s center passed briefly over Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, bringing heavy rains, the NHC said.
Grace was expected to produce another few inches of rain to the area recovering from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Saturday, killing at least 1,941 people.
Around 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been impacted by the earthquake, according to UNICEF.
Tropical Storm Grace, which hit the same region late Monday “is further disrupting access to water, shelter, and other basic services,” UNICEF said in a statement Tuesday. “Flooding and mudslides are likely to worsen the situation of vulnerable families and further complicate the humanitarian response.”
There are no rainfall reports or radar observation data available out of Haiti, but CNN meteorologists estimate that roughly 2-4 inches (60-100 millimeters) of rain fell over the period from 11 a.m. EDT Monday to 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, based on estimates from a NOAA satellite.
CNN’s Judson Jones, Michael Guy, Matt Rivers and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.