(CNN)Tropical Storm Franklin is strengthening over the Caribbean Sea, menacing Mexico with storm warnings and a hurricane watch issued for the Yucatan peninsula.
Tropical Storm Franklin menaces Mexico's Yucatan peninsula
The government of Mexico has issued a hurricane watch for part of the eastern peninsula from Chetumal to Punta Allen.
The National Hurricane Center said Franklin lay about 265 miles (425 km) east of Belize City at 5 a.m ET Monday and was expected to pass well north of Honduras to bring storm conditions to the peninsula by the afternoon.
"Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast until the center reaches the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, and Franklin could be near hurricane strength by the time landfall occurs this evening. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km) from the center," the center's advisory said.
Tropical storm conditions were expected for the area from Chetumal to Campeche and could also affect Belize City north to the border of Mexico and for Campeche to Sabancuy, where a watch was in place.
"Interests elsewhere around the Bay of Campeche should monitor the progress of this system," the NHC said.
Franklin could also bring rainfall of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated amounts of around 12 inches, that could produce life-threatening flash floods through the peninsula until Wednesday, it warned.
Belize's National Meteorological Service issued a small craft caution for gusty winds and rough seas near heavy showers and thunderstorms.