Tropical storm likely to form, roll toward US Gulf coast

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A disturbance off the Central American coast is likely to grow into a tropical storm that could bring heavy rains and flooding to parts of Mexico, Cuba and then the U.S. Gulf coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday.

Forecasters said Tropical Storm Michael is likely to form Sunday night and could reach the Gulf coast by Wednesday. A tropical storm warning was in effect for the western tip of Cuba, while a tropical storm watch has been called for the resort region of the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

Forecasters said they don’t project the storm to reach hurricane force, but it could bring 3 to 7 inches (7.5 to 17.5 centimeters) of rain to western Cuba and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) over the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize.

The storm was centered about 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Cozumel, Mexico, late Saturday and was heading north at 6 mph (9 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph (45 kph).

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, Category 3 Hurricane Sergio was 1,125 miles (1,810 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula and taking its 125 mph (205 kph) winds further out to sea.

But forecasters said they expect it to make a U-turn early next week and head back toward the Baja California Peninsula while growing weaker.

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