Written by Michelle Palmer, Deputy State Meteorologist, FDEM Tuesday, 07 August 2012 10:08
At 8am EDT Tuesday, Tropical Storm Ernesto was located 250 miles east of Belize City, Belize, or about 512 miles south-southwest of Key West, Florida.
Ernesto is moving towards the west-northwest at 13 mph and this general motion is expected to continue through tonight.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center takes Ernesto north of Honduras today before moving inland over Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula tonight. Ernesto is then expected to move across the Yucatan Peninsula through early Wednesday and emerge over the Bay of Campeche tomorrow afternoon.
After that time, Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to approach the eastern coast of Mexico near Veracruz early Friday.
Maximum sustained winds remain at 65 mph, but light wind shear and warm ocean temperatures should allow for some slow strengthening and will likely become a hurricane before reaching the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula tonight.
Ernesto will weaken over land, but may gain some strength in the southwest Gulf of Mexico before making its final landfall in Mexico.
There are no watches or warnings in effect for the United States and no part of Florida is within the 5 day error cone or at risk for tropical storm force winds. However, as Tropical Storm Ernesto moves westward over the west-central Caribbean and into the Bay of Campeche, higher ocean swells will move northward and may arrive at the central Gulf Coast as early as tomorrow. This will likely lead to an increased rip current risk along the Emerald Coast Wednesday through Friday.
Further east, shower activity in association with the remnant low of Florence, about 1,000 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, has increased. However, environmental conditions are not conductive for development and the National Hurricane Center has given this system a low (10%) chance of redeveloping within the next 48 hours as it move westward at about 20 mph.
A tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean, designated as 92L, is located about 355 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Conditions are only marginally favorable for development and the National Hurricane Center has given it a low (20%) chance of developing by Thursday morning as it moves toward the west at 10 mph.
Closer to home, a weak tropical wave and area of low pressure over the Florida Panhandle will produce several periods of heavy showers across much of the area today. Heavy rainfall will be the main threat, with forecast rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches and higher amounts of 3-6 inches locally. Lightning will also be a concern.
More information on Tropical Storm Ernesto can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov.
Click here to view storm related graphics. Another update will be issued Tuesday evening.
Deputy State Meteorologist
Florida Division of Emergency Management
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