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Near-hurricane Ernesto to hit Mexico

hurricane warnings posted east Yucatan, Belize

MIAMI | August 7, 2012

Tropical Storm Ernesto was forecast to hit Mexico's northeastern Yucatan Peninsula as a hurricane Tuesday night, U.S. forecasters said at midday.

At 11 a.m., Ernesto had sustained winds of 65 mph and was about 220 miles east of Chetumal, Mexico, moving west-northwest at about 14 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Hurricane warnings were posted by the Mexican government from Chetumal to Tulum on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and also for the entire coast of Belize, the center said.

Tropical storm-force winds were expected in the storm warning area along the Honduran coast throughout the day Tuesday. Hurricane conditions, preceded by tropical storm conditions, were expected to reach the coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.

Warnings and watches were also posted along coastal areas from the Honduras-Nicaragua border north to Mexico.

Tropical storm force winds were extending outward up to 140 miles, the report said.

Ernesto was expected to produce 3-5 inches of rain along the northern coast of Honduras, with isolated amounts of 8 inches over mountainous terrain.

"A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center makes landfall on the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula," the center warned.

The storm is forecast to lose strength as it passes over land, but could well regain strength when it reaches the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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