TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical Storm Karl strengthened slightly as it continues its approach toward the coast of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, the NHC said the storm was about 220 miles north-northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, and about 260 miles north of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. The storm had max sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving north at 3 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said Karl will continue to move north throughout the day before beginning to drift southwest Wednesday evening. The storm is expected to pick up speed as it approaches the coast of Mexico Thursday but is not forecast to weaken by landfall Friday.

“Tropical Storm Karl eventually drifts into central Mexico,” meteorologist Leigh Spann said. “While the wind remains at tropical storm strength, the heavy rain may bring flash flooding and mudslides in the area.”

Karl is expected to produce 3 to 7 inches of rain, with up to a foot of rain possible across portions of Veracruz and Tabasco through Friday.

The storm will stay well to the west of Florida, thanks to a cold front moving through the southeastern U.S.

“The cold front set to push through the Tampa Bay area Thursday afternoon will help keep Tropical Storm Karl in the southern Gulf of Mexico and far away from Florida,” Spann added.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • Cabo Rojo to Roca Partida