MIAMI — Tropical Storm Ernesto trekked westwards through the Caribbean yesterday and Mexico issued a hurricane watch for parts of the Yucatan peninsula as the storm looked on course to skirt the Honduran coast, US forecasters said.
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 metres track final at the Olympics Games.
Heavy rains also lashed Hispaniola and Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Mexico issued a hurricane watch for the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula from Chetumal northward to Punta Gruesa, the US National Hurricane Center in Florida said yesterday.
Tropical storm conditions were expected along the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras by late yesterday.
A tropical storm warning for Jamaica was cancelled, the hurricane centre said.
Ernesto was 290 km east of the Honduras-Nicaragua border at 5 am EDT (1000 GMT) yesterday, moving west at about 19 kph with maximum sustained winds around 85 kph.
A gradual turn to west-northwest was expected in the next 24 hours.
Its predicted track should keep it at sea until a forecast landfall, possibly at hurricane strength, over Yucatan tomorrow.
“Some strengthening is forecast as Ernesto moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea yesterday and today,” the National Hurricane Center forecasters in Miami said.
Ernesto will be deemed a hurricane if its winds reach 119 kph.
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, weakened and was downgraded to a tropical depression yesterday, the hurricane centre said.
With maximum sustained winds of 55 kph, Florence was 2,590 km east of the Northern Leeward Islands at 5 am EDT (1000 GMT).
It is expected to further weaken as it moves west, the hurricane centre said.
August and September are usually the most active months of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. — Reuters