Hurricane Lisa weakens to tropical storm

Hurricane Lisa has weakened into a tropical storm as it moves across Belize, leaving much of the country's largest city in the dark, although there were no reports of deaths or major damage so far in the Caribbean nation famed for its tourist appeal.

The eye of Lisa churned on Wednesday about 95 kilometres west of Belize City, the tiny country's main commercial port, targeting northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico with the promise of heavy rain and gusty winds.

The storm's maximum sustained winds slowed to 95km/h, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest report.

On Wednesday evening, much of Belize City was without power and water after Lisa yanked up trees and toppled electric posts.

Some roofs sustained damage while flooding to bungalow houses was also visible, but local officials had yet to quantify the impact from the storm.

The centre forecasts rapid weakening as Lisa moves further inland, but steady rainfall and the potential for widespread flooding still pose significant dangers.

NHC predicts that after Lisa moves over sparsely-populated Belize, its strong winds and heavy rains will slowly cross the jungles of northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico, home to ancient Maya ruins and beach resorts.

Weather models over the next couple of days show Lisa on a path to reach the southern Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche, where major offshore drilling rigs operated by national oil company Pemex are located. The models, however, show a weakened storm system once it reaches the area.

The NHC said Lisa was moving westward at a speed of 19km/h and that a powerful storm surge could lift tides some one to two metres above normal levels.

The Belize government's emergency services announced a state of emergency including a curfew across two districts covering large swathes of its Caribbean coast through Thursday. Officials advised people living in vulnerable areas to move to shelters, adding that border crossings, ports and airports were also ordered closed.

The NHC also warned of tropical storm conditions between the Mexican border city of Chetumal and Costa Maya, one of the country's most popular cruise ports, though its tropical storm warning did not stretch as far north to the popular beach resort of Tulum.