Tropical Storm Ernesto neared the southern Mexican coast Thursday with drenching rains and strong winds around the Bay of Campeche, forecasters said.
A hurricane warning from Veracruz to Chiltepec was downgraded to a tropical storm warning and a similar warning was in effect for the area north of Veracruz to Barra de Nautla, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory.
Ernesto had sustained winds of 60 mph and higher gusts and was centered about 5 miles northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, heading west at 10 mph.
On its forecast track, Ernesto's center will cross the extreme southern Bay of Campeche and make landfall in the hurricane warning area Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ernesto was below the 74 mph hurricane threshold and once the storm moves over land and it loses warm sea air fuel, further weakening was expected.
Tropical storm-force winds extend 140 miles from the center, the NHC said.
Ernesto is expected to produce rainfall of 5-10 inches in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Puebla and Oaxaca through Friday. Lesser amounts of rain were forecast for northern Guatemala and the southwestern Yucatan Peninsula Thursday.
A storm surge, with dangerous waves 1-3 feet above normal tide levels, was likely along the Gulf of Mexico in the warning area.
Ernesto made its first of two landfalls Tuesday night as a Category 1 hurricane on the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before advancing across southern Mexico.
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