Hurricane Ernesto weakened to a tropical storm as it passed over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Ernesto made landfall overnight as a Category 1 hurricane near the coastal community of Mahahual.” AIR said that, “although Ernesto made landfall slightly closer to Cozumel than expected, no significant damage to exposures on that island has been reported.”
The latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center in Miami placed the center of the storm at about 65 miles, 100 km, northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds were 70 mph, 110 km/h, which would classify Ernesto as a weak hurricane or a strong tropical storm.
It is continuing to move west at 16 mph, 26 km/h. The NHC said a “west to west-southwest motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the next day or two. On the forecast track the center of Ernesto will move across the extreme southern Bay of Campeche and make landfall in the hurricane warning area later this morning.” Some further strengthening is expected before it comes ashore again.
Dr. Tim Doggett, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide stated: “Only minor damage, including fallen trees, ripped billboards, power outages, and broken windows have been reported in Mahahual and surrounding communities near Ernesto’s landfall point.”
After monitoring the storm’s progress on Tuesday, Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, decided not to evacuate oil rigs along the gulf coast.
According to AIR, “Ernesto’s forecasted westward track put this storm in position to make a second landfall in the vicinity of Veracruz. This city may experience heavy rains and some minor wind damage as a consequence of Ernesto. The Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains, which line the mainland of eastern Mexico, raise the risk of possible flash flooding or mudslides associated with Ernesto’s potentially heavy rainfall as it makes landfall near Veracruz.”
Sources: National Hurricane Center, AIR Worldwide