Tropical storm heads for pass along Honduras coast
Published: August 6, 2012 12:28PM
Updated: August 6, 2012 12:30PM
This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, August 05, 2012 at 01:45 PM EDT shows dense cloud cover extending across the eastern third of the nation as an active weather develops ahead of a cold front extending from the Upper Great Lakes into the Southern Plains. Instability ahead of this cold front kicks up areas of scattered showers, periods of heavy rainfall, and thunderstorms through the afternoon. There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms through this evening from the Mid-South northeastward to the Central Appalachians and western New England with damaging wind gusts and possible severe hail. Behind this cold front, dry and more seasonable weather with cooler temperatures prevail across much of the Plains. Hot daytime temperatures continue in northeastern Texas and south-central Oklahoma as highs climb to near 100 degrees and heat index values reach up to 110. To the southeast, a tropical wave is located over north Florida into the northeast Gulf. Considerable moisture remains in place over Florida, allowing rain and thunderstorms to persist through the afternoon. Finally, offshore in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ernesto remains poorly organized as it becomes located about 205 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica. Ernesto is moving toward the west near 23 mph with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph and higher gusts. Tropical storm conditions are expected in Jamaica later this afternoon and this evening, while squalls effect the south coast of Haiti. Rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated higher amounts, can be expected in Jamaica as Ernesto moves by the island. For more information on this system, please visit (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

Tegusigalpa, Honduras • Tropical Storm Ernesto’s forward movement slowed Monday as it headed for an expected close pass along Honduras’ northern coast after dropping heavy rains on Jamaica without causing serious problems.

The storm passed to the south of Jamaica, where authorities said rains fell over much of the island, particularly its eastern areas. Rain and wind began tapering off Sunday evening, but the government urged islanders to remain alert during the night and said fishermen should remain in safe harbors.

Ernesto hasn’t made any direct hits on land since entering the Caribbean early Saturday, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was predicted to stay offshore while swirling past Honduras by Monday night.

Many Jamaicans stocked up on food and water before the storm made itself felt on their island, but few seemed worried.

Daniel Edwards, who was bailing out his small wooden fishing boat next to a dilapidated dock in Port Royal, a small fishing village, said he wasn’t overly concerned by the storm.

“It’s not much of a muchness,” the veteran fisherman said.

Forecasters said Ernesto could bring rain to the coast of Honduras on Monday. It is then expected to grow to near-hurricane force before moving ashore near the Belize-Mexico border early Wednesday and eventually passing into the southern Gulf of Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was issued early Monday for the coast of Honduras, from the border with Nicaragua westward to Punta Sal, including the Bay Islands. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the main island of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands to the north of Ernesto.

A Cayman government statement urged Grand Cayman residents to monitor the storm but said it was not likely to have serious effects on the British Caribbean territory.

Also, Mexico has issued a hurricane watch Monday for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The U.S. hurricane center said Ernesto was centered about 145 miles east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border early Monday. It had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph and was moving westward at 12 mph.

Far out in the Atlantic, Florence had weakened to a tropical depression Monday with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph. Additional weakening is forecast and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Florence was expected to degenerate within the next few days.

Florence was centered about 1,610 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands.