Tropical Storm Richard Targets Gulf

10/21/2010 07:03 PM ET

Tropical Storm Richard

Tropical Storm Richard formed over the Caribbean Sea on Thursday and could become Hurricane Richard by the weekend. The tropical storm is on a forecast track taking it into the Gulf of Mexico next week.

Richard was the 17th named storm of the busy 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. The season has seen nine hurricanes to date. In its five-day track forecast, the National Hurricane Center saw the tropical storm entering the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

This raised the possibility the storm might eventually threaten the concentration of U.S. oil and gas installations in the northern Gulf. At 5 p.m. EDT, Richard was located about 235 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman in the Cayman islands, and about 200 miles northeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border. It packed top sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

The tropical storm was moving southeast, but prevailing weather conditions were expected to turn it back around to the west in the coming days. It’s projected path will take it toward Central America and the Yucatan peninsula. The Honduran government issued a tropical storm watch on Thursday afternoon for the coast of Honduras, from the Nicaraguan border westward to Limon.

The warning means tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area within about 48 hours.

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