* Ernesto expected to make landfall in Mexico
* May reach hurricane strength by mid-week
* Tropical Storm Florence fading in eastern Atlantic
(Adds detail on location and wind speed of Ernesto and
By Michael Connor
MIAMI, Aug 5 Tropical Storm Ernesto kept on a
westerly course in the Caribbean Sea on Sunday and was expected
to strengthen slowly over the coming 48 hours while heading
towards Mexico's Yucatan, U.S. forecasters said.
Wet and windy conditions were felt in Jamaica on Sunday
which caught the outer rain bands of Ernesto, according to
Jamaica's emergency management office.
Ernesto's winds and rain failed to dampen the spirits of
many Jamaicans who gathered in large street parties in the
capital Kingston to watch their star sprinter Usian Bolt race to
victory in the 100 meters track final at the Olympics Games.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Florida said tropical
storm conditions were possible along the coast of Honduras by
late Monday. A tropical storm watch advisory was also issued for
Ernesto was following a predicted track that should keep it
at sea until a forecast landfall, possibly at hurricane
strength, over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Wednesday.
The storm was 235 miles (375 km) east of the coast of
Honduras at around 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT) on Sunday, moving west
at about 15 mph (24 kph) with maximum sustained winds around 50
mph (85 kph).
Heavy rains were experienced throughout Sunday in Hispaniola
and Puerto Rico. Three to 6 inches (7.6 to 15.2 cm) were
predicted in Jamaica and authorities warned of flooding in
low-lying areas along the south coast. Showers and
thunderstorms, sometimes severe, were possible on the islands of
Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire off Venezuela's northern coast.
"Some strengthening is forecast as Ernesto moves over the
northwestern Caribbean Sea on Monday and Tuesday," the U.S.
forecasters in Miami said.
Ernesto will be deemed a hurricane if its winds reach 74 mph
Forecasters expect Ernesto to move into the southern part of
the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday but they said it was too early to
know whether it could disrupt oil and gas operations in the
The National Hurricane Center forecasters said another
tropical storm, called Florence, formed on Saturday in the
eastern Atlantic and was moving west in open waters. As of early
Sunday, forecasters said Florence was about 925 miles (1,485
km) west of the Cape Verde Islands.
With maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), Florence
was the sixth named storm of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane
season, but it faded on Sunday as it moved west-northwest at 13
mph (20 kph).
"Additional weakening is expected ... and Florence is
forecast to become a tropical depression on Monday," the
Hurricane Center reported.
August and September are usually the most active months of
the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1
to Nov. 30.
(Additional reporting by David Adams; Editing by David