A tropical cyclone in the northwestern Caribbean Sea has been upgraded to a named storm, Tropical Storm Nate. The system is likely to become a hurricane in the next three days and could hit the northern Gulf Coast Sunday morning, forecasters say.

Nate is currently bringing heavy rainfall to Nicaragua and Honduras, as it scrapes along their coasts on a northwest track toward Cancun. The storm has triggered flood warnings in those areas, along with a hurricane watch in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos.

The storm is currently moving northwest at 8 mph; that will change later Thursday, the National Hurricane Center says, when Nate takes a more north-northwestward path and moves at a faster speed.

The cyclone currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. By Sunday, those winds are expected to reach 75 mph.

While winds often attract the most attention and concern, water — both storm surge and rainfall — is often the most deadly component of a tropical cyclone. The hurricane center warns that Nate will bring 15 to 20 inches of rain to Nicaragua — and that a wide area is at risk, with heavy rainfall expected along the Pacific coast of Central America.

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