Storm Franklin builds in epic satellite footage (IMAGES)

Storm Franklin builds in epic satellite footage (IMAGES)
Tropical storm Franklin looks set to become the first hurricane to hit the Atlantic basin this year as satellite images show the storm force intensifying.

The storm formed over the western Caribbean Sunday and made landfall near Pulticub in southeast Mexico before battering the area with 60mph (95kmph) winds. The US National Hurricane Center forecasts that Franklin will make its second landfall in Mexico late Wednesday or early Thursday, as a hurricane.

At 10am CDT Wednesday, Tropical Storm Franklin was found about 140 miles (225km) northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, and moving west. Satellite images show Franklin strengthening as its center moves towards Mexico’s east coast.

Franklin is the sixth named storm of the season. Maximum sustained winds are currently recorded at near 70mph (110 km/h), with higher gusts. To be classified as a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from Puerto de Veracruz to Cabo Rojo, while a hurricane watch is in place for areas north of Cabo Rojo to Rio Panuco

Franklin is expected to cross the coast in the Mexican state of Veracruz tonight or early Thursday accompanied by heavy rainfall threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Up to three inches of rainfall are also forecast across parts of Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.