MEXICO CITY — After a relatively mild run across the Yucatan Peninsula, Franklin became the first hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic season on Wednesday afternoon. It is expected to make landfall along Mexico's gulf coast Wednesday night or early Thursday.
At 5 p.m., the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Franklin had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph with higher gusts. The storm's center was 175 miles east-southeast of Tuxpan and it was heading west at 12 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from Puerto de Veracruz to Cabo Rojo, and a hurricane watch extends north of Cabo Rojo to Rio Panuco.
Forecasters expect the hurricane to continue strengthening until it makes landfall in the state of Veracruz late Wednesday or early Thursday.
The hurricane center says storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels along the coast. Forecasters say rainfall of 4 to 8 inches is possible, with some areas getting as much as 15 inches of rain.
Mexico Civil Protection director Ricardo de la Cruz said Tuesday that the storm's impact on Yucatan was not as bad as initially feared, with some trees down and power out in some areas. But, he warned, "The second impact could even be stronger than the first."
Forecasters said Franklin's rains could cause flash floods and mudslides in the mountains of central Mexico.