UPDATE: Cat I Hurricane Ernesto Nears Mexico, Belize

August 8, 2012

According to the latest report from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the center of category 1 Hurricane Ernesto was about 20 miles, 35 km, north of Chetumal, Mexico and about 160 miles, 260 km, east south east of Campeche, Mexico

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 80 mph, 130 km/h, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles, 55 km from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles, 280 km, Ernesto continued to move west at 15 mph, 24 km/h, and is expected to continue along this track “during the next day or so.”

The NHC forecasts said the storm’s center “will move across the southern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula this morning and emerge over the bay of Campeche this afternoon.” It will probably weaken somewhat, as it passes over land, but is expected to regain strength when it reaches the Bay of Campeche.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Chetumal to Tulum on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel and the coast of Belize from Belize City northward to the border of Mexico. Rainfall of between 3 to 5 inches, up to 8 inches, is forecast for the north coast of Honduras, of 4 to 8 inches, up to 12 inches “over Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala. These rains may produce life threatening flash floods and mud slides over higher terrain.”

In addition the NHC said a “dangerous storm surge of as much as 2 to 4 feet [0.66 to 1.33 meters] above normal tide levels will continue early this morning near where Ernesto made landfall along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels is likely in areas of onshore winds in the warning area along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Near the coast the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.

Source: National Hurricane Center

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