Mexico’s Yucatan Braces for Storm as Ernesto Strengthens
By Theresa Norton Masek
August 07, 2012 2:06 PM
Ernesto strengthened into a hurricane Tuesday afternoon as it headed toward the Yucatan Peninsula. Puerto Costa Maya launched emergency protocol with the expectation of a category-one hurricane hitting at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. “We are all prepared here at Puerto Costa Maya and Mahahual,” Cesar Lizarraga, vice president of port operations at the port wrote in an email. “Looking forward to being ready and operational by Friday.”
Hurricane Ernesto is expected to strengthen until it reaches the Yucatan, according to the National Hurricane Center, but should weaken as it moves over land.
While some Carnival Cruise Lines ships had previously changed itineraries to avoid the storm, some reverted back to original routes. However, the Carnival Imagination’s Aug. 6 departure from Miami was revised. It visited Key West on Tuesday, and Nassau on Wednesday and Thursday, before returning to Miami as scheduled on Friday.
The hurricane center said the storm’s center will continue passing north of the coast of Honduras and will cross the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday night, according to. The center of Ernesto is forecast to move across the Yucatan Peninsula late Tuesday and early Wednesday and emerge over the Bay of Campeche by Wednesday afternoon or evening.
At midday Tuesday, the storm was about about 185 miles east of Chetumal, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. A hurricane warning is in effect for Chetumal to Tulum on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel and the entire coast of Belize. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Honduras from the Honduras/Nicaragua border westward to Punta Sal including the Bay Islands, north of Tulum to Cancun on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and Celestun southward and westward to Chilitepec along the gulf coast of Mexico. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Honduras from west of Punta Sal to the Honduras/Guatemala border.