Jamaica braces for heavy rain as TS Ernesto nears

7:07 PM, Aug 5, 2012   |    comments
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PORT ROYAL, Jamaica - A poorly organized Tropical Storm Ernesto is spinning off Jamaica's southern coast on a path that may carry it across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Emergency officials say some eastern parts of the island are already being drenched by rain from Ernesto's outer bands and there's expected to be heavy rainfall and gusty winds over the island.

Tropical storm conditions are expected today from the rapidly moving storm, though U.S. forecasters say it's becoming less organized. Ernesto is threatening to dump 3 to 6 inches of rain on the Caribbean island before drenching the coasts of Honduras, Belize and Mexico, possibly as a hurricane.

Forecasters say it might weaken into a storm over land and then re-emerge as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico late next week. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Honduras, from the border with Nicaragua westward to Punta Castilla, and the island of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.

Showers and thunderstorms are also still possible over the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Ernesto is centered about 205 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica.

It has maximum sustained winds near 50 mph and is moving swiftly westward at 23 mph

The Associated Press

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