PUNTA GORDA, Belize (AP) — Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize, pelting a relatively sparsely populated stretch of the country’s coast with heavy rain and wind before weakening to a tropical storm.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported early Thursday that Nana hit land between the coastal towns of Dangriga and Placencia, at an area around 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Belize City with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), making it barely a hurricane. The storm was moving west-southwest at 16 mph (26 kph).
Later in the morning, Nana weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph (110 kph).
Thousands of people stocked up on food, water and construction materials Wednesday ahead of the landfall. Long lines stretched through supermarkets and hardware store shelves were nearly bare as residents of Belize bought materials to board up windows and doors.
Belize issued a hurricane warning for its coastline. Heavy rains were expected in Belize, as well as in northern Honduras. Forecasters said Nana would weaken rapidly as it moved inland Thursday, drenching Belize and Guatemala.
Local leaders in rural villages in Belize’s southernmost district of Toledo were awaiting word from the National Emergency Management Organization to open hurricane shelters.