Tropical Storm Ernesto Intensifies, Could Reach Hurricane Strength By Tonight

Tropical Storm Ernesto picked up strength Monday in the Caribbean and was expected to reach hurricane force by Monday (Aug. 6) night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of the NHC’s 2pm update, Ernesto was centered about 160 mileseast-northeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border and was moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph. It had been racing along at nearly twice that pace over the weekend, with maximum sustained winds of nearly 65 mph.

“On the forecast track, the center of Ernesto 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 NHC said.

A tropical-storm warning was issued early today for the coast of Honduras, from the border with Nicaragua westward to Punta Sal, including the Bay Islands.

The storm is expected to produce rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches along the northern coast of Honduras and the northeast coast of Nicaragua, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches over mountainous terrain, the NHC reports.

As Ernesto continued to strengthen over the weekend, Florence, the sixth named stormed of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, had weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.

Additional weakening is forecast, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Florence was expected to degenerate within the next few days.

Florence was centered about 1,610 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands.

The Weather Channel has more on the projected path of Tropical Storm Ernesto in the clip below: