ORLANDO, Fla. - The Mexican and Belizean governments issued hurricane warnings Monday for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as Tropical Storm Ernesto churned toward the area.
The warning was issued early Monday and covers the area of the coast from the Nicaraguan border to Punta Sal and includes the Bay Islands. Also, Mexico has issued a hurricane watch for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
"A strong area of high pressure will keep Ernesto well to the south of Florida, guiding it to the west, eventually across the Yucatan Peninsula," Local 6 meteorologist Julie Broughton said.
Ernesto's maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 kph) with some strengthening forecast. The storm is expected to become a hurricane by Monday night.
As of Monday afternoon, the storm was about 160 miles (260 kilometers) east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, the National Hurricane Center reported. Ernesto was moving west-nothwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
The storm was expected to pass to the south of the Cayman Islands and near the northern coast of Honduras on Monday night.
Belize also issued a hurricane warning for its east coast. Areas of the Cayman Islands, Honduras and the Yucatan Peninsula are under tropical storm warnings.
Meanwhile, farther in the Atlantic, Florence weakened to a post-tropical system.
Additional weakening is forecast and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Florence is expected to degenerate within the next few days. Maximum sustained winds dipped to 35 mph, and further weakening is forecast in the coming days.
"Neither Ernesto nor Florence will affect our weather, but both are a good reminder that as we head toward the peak of hurricane season next month, to have our preparedness plans in place," Broughton said.
The high temperatures in Central Florida this week will be in the low 90s, with lows in the mid-70s.
"Deep tropical moisture keeps our chance of rain high both Monday and Tuesday, but drier air arrives by midweek, dropping our rain chance," Broughton said.
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
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