Ernesto strengthens, takes aim at Mexico’s Yucatan
MIAMI, (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Ernesto strengthened in the western Caribbean Sea yesterday and was forecast to smack into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a hurricane, US forecasters said.
Ernesto had top sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 km per hour) at midday and was expected to cross the 74 mph (119 kph) threshold to become a hurricane by last night.
The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Yucatan’s east coast. Hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings were in effect for other parts of the Yucatan and the coasts of Honduras, the Bay Islands and Belize.
Ernesto was moving west-northwest and was about 190 miles (305 km) miles east-northeast the Nicaragua-Honduras border.
“On the forecast track, the centre will be passing north of the coast of Honduras tonight and Tuesday and approach the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula early Wednesday,” forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said on Monday.
Ernesto’s outer bands brought winds and rain to Jamaica as it passed south of the island on Sunday but the storm failed to dampen street celebrations there for sprinter Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100 meters track final at the Olympics Games.
Heavy rains also lashed Hispaniola and Puerto Rico on Sunday.
The forecasters expect Ernesto to move into the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday but it was too early to know if it could disrupt oil and gas operations in the gulf.
To the east, Florence, the sixth named storm of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, dissipated into a remnant low pressure area over the open Atlantic yesterday. It was about midway between the coast of Africa and the Leeward Islands and never threatened land.
August and September are usually the most active months of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.