Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tropical Storm Ernesto weakens slightly as it races toward Gulf of Mexico

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Ernesto could veer into the Gulf of Mexico as soon as early next week, experts said, so long as its breakneck pace continues.

The storm, which weakened slightly to 45 mph winds overnight, showed no signs of slowing as it barreled across the Caribbean early Friday.

But this slight weakening after its formation Thursday in the Atlantic Ocean should have little bearing on the storm's long-term potential, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Ernesto, the fifth named storm of the season, was expected to intensify steadily in coming days and reach hurricane status by next week.

The overnight disorganization that weakened Ernesto as it moved into the Caribbean was due to atmospheric conditions and strong wind shear. Those unfavorable conditions were expected to lessen as the storm races closer to the gulf.

Experts said it was too soon to say whether the storm, located about 40 miles southwest of St. Lucia at 8 a.m. Friday, would ultimately affect Florida or the greater United States.

Several island nations issued tropical storm watches and warnings as Ernesto moved westward at 24 mph, bringing up to 5 inches of rainfall, rough surf and strong winds extending up to 115 miles from the center of the storm.

In its 8 a.m. advisory Friday the hurricane center also noted two other systems churning in the Atlantic Basin: one over the northwestern Bahamas and another off the coast of the Cape Verde Islands in Africa.

The first system, a disorganized mass of clouds and showers, was not expected to become a tropical cyclone over the next couple of days.

But the tropical wave off the coast of Africa had a moderate chance of developing and could indicate the beginnings of Cape Verde season, the point in the middle of hurricane season when large storms form off the coast of north-central Africa and grow stronger as they push westward, eventually emerging as hurricanes before reaching the Caribbean Sea.

The peak of the Cape Verde season is August and September, and a typical year would have one to five hurricanes.

This hurricane season was predicted to be reasonably quiet with nine to 15 named storms expected. Of those only four to eight are expected to become hurricanes, according to the hurricane center.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (813) 226-3386.

Tropical Storm Ernesto weakens slightly as it races toward Gulf of Mexico 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO


    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  2. What to watch this week: Fall TV kicks off with 'Will & Grace,' 'Young Sheldon,' return of 'This Is Us'


    September temperatures are still creeping into the 90s, but fall officially started a few days ago. And with that designation comes the avalanche of new and returning TV shows. The Big Bang Theory fans get a double dose of Sheldon Cooper's nerdisms with the return of the titular series for an eleventh season and …

    Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally in Will & Grace.
  3. Eight refueling jets from Arkansas, 250 people heading to new home at MacDill


    TAMPA — The number of KC-135 refueling jets at MacDill Air Force Base will grow from 18 to 24 with the return of a squadron that once called Tampa home.

    A KC-135 Stratotanker, a military aerial refueling jet, undergoes maintenance at MacDill Air Force Base. The planes, many flying since the late 1950s, are now being flown more than twice as much as scheduled because of ongoing foreign conflicts. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs couldn't connect on or stop deep passes in loss to Vikings


    If two things were established as storylines entering Sunday's Bucs-Vikings game, it was that Tampa Bay was still struggling to establish the deep passes that were missing from its offense last year, and that …

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) gets into the end zone for a long touchdown reception as Bucs free safety Chris Conte (23) cannot stop him during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Alejandro Villanueva, Steelers player and Army vet who stood alone, now has the NFL's top-selling jersey


    CHICAGO — When the national anthem started at Soldier Field on Sunday, the visiting sideline was mostly empty. The most prominent evidence of the Pittsburgh Steelers was offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, standing all by himself near the tunnel, holding his right hand over his heart.

    Alejandro Villanueva stands alone during the national anthem at Soldier Field in Chicago. [Associated Press]