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Jamaica braces for tropical rains

Ernesto prompts tropical storm warnings Sunday morning

MIAMI (UPI) | August 5, 2012

Jamaica was under a tropical storm warning Sunday as Tropical Storm Ernesto approached its southern coast, forecasters in Miami said.

The National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m., Ernesto was 215 miles south-southeast of Jamaica moving westward at 22 mph.

It had sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts and some strengthening was expected within the next 48 hours, the report said. Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 125 miles.

Rainfall accumulations of as much as 6 inches were expected in Jamaica and possible heavy thunderstorms were also possible over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the NHC said.

A tropical storm watch was posted for the coast of Honduras from the Honduras/Nicaragua border westward to Punta Castilla.

"Interests in the Cayman Islands, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico should monitor the progress of Ernesto," the forecasters said.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Florence formed over the Atlantic Ocean and was about 680 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands Sunday morning.

Florence had winds of 60 mph and was moving west-northwest at 15 mph, forecasters said.

"Some strengthening is forecast during the next day or so," the center said.

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