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Tropical Storm Richard's path remains uncertain

Tropical Storm Richard changed little in location or strength early Friday, but was still forecast to reach hurricane strength this weekend and threaten Central America.

The storm remained about 235 miles southeast of Grand Cayman with sustained winds around 40 mph. Richard is expected to pick up speed and begin moving west before strengthening into a hurricane Sunday.

It could hit the Yucatan Peninsula or Belize, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

There's a lot of uncertainty where the system will go after that and how strong it will be, she said. "It's kind of wait and see," Marquez said.

Computer models differ significantly on the path after it crosses Central America. It could move into the Pacific, enter the Gulf of Mexico and head west or curve northeast toward Florida.

"It really depends on what kind of system it is after it interacts with land," Marquez said.

Meanwhile, the system will not affect this weekend's Tampa Bay weather, which is expected to be hot and dry, Marquez said.

Temperatures are forecast to peak in the upper 80s Saturday and Sunday.

Dr. Peter Ray, a meteorology professor at Florida State University, wrote in his blog, Weather Or Not, that changes in the last 24 hours have reduced the hurricane threat to the eastern Gulf.

After predicting Richard would likely become the first hurricane to hit the U.S., he wrote Friday that missing the United States completely is now a possibility again.

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Tropical Storm Richard's path remains uncertain 10/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 11:17am]
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