Tropical Storm Otto kills four in Panama

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At least four people have died in Panama in severe weather caused by the approach of Tropical Storm Otto, officials say. Two victims died in a mudslide, a girl drowned in a river and a boy died when a tree fell on the car taking him to school. His mother, driving, survived.

The Panamanian education minister has suspended classes until Thursday.

Tropical Storm Otto is stationary as of late Tuesday morning, centered about 330 miles (530 km) east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. A westward drift is expected to begin later today, followed by a faster westward motion on Wednesday. On the forecast track, Otto should be approaching the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Otto is expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight, with additional strengthening forecast through Thursday.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect from the Costa Rica/Panama border to south of Bluefields, aTropical Storm Warning is in effect from Nargana to Colon, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for San Andresa and from west of Colon to the Costa Rica/Panama border.

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Tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area today and tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area on Wednesday or Wednesday night. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area on Thursday.

Outer rain bands from Otto are expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches over San Andres and Providencia islands, and the higher terrain of central and western Panama and southern Costa Rica through Wednesday. Total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of 15 to 20 inches, can be expected across northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua through Thursday.

Get the latest on Otto by going directly to the NHC website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#OTTO