Honduran emergency officials urged coastal residents to evacuate low-lying areas and Mexico issued a hurricane warning as Paula strengthened into a powerful storm Tuesday and battered the Caribbean coast with strong winds and rain.
Paula formed Monday off the coast of Honduras and quickly intensified into a hurricane early Tuesday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
It had winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was centered about 230 miles (370 kilometers) south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
Paula was expected to dump from 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of Honduras, northern Belize, eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and parts of western and central Cuba.
The government of Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the country's Caribbean coast from Punta Gruesa north to Cabo Catoche, including the island of Cozumel. Warnings are issued when hurricane conditions are almost certain to occur.