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Tropical Storm Ernesto churns toward Mexico; separate tropical wave to bring rain locally

A pair of tropical storms were forecast Saturday to stay far from Florida, while a tropical wave approaching the state's east coast was expected to bring heavy rains today and Monday.

Tropical Storm Ernesto moved Saturday over Jamaica and Puerto Rico, continuing on a projected path that would hit Mexico after dumping heavy rain on the eastern Caribbean. The storm was expected to develop into a hurricane today, but a ridge of high pressure likely would keep it well to the south of Florida, forecasters said.

"There is a chance that Ernesto could come into the gulf," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay, adding that it was too early to say what path it would take if it did.

Ernesto had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph late Saturday as it moved west toward the Yucatan Peninsula at 18 mph.

Meanwhile, a new tropical storm, Florence, formed farther out in the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center said it was not expected to reach hurricane force as it marches generally westward.

Locally, a tropical wave coming off the Bahamas was expected to bring a 60 to 70 percent chance of rain to the Tampa Bay area today, Clay said.

The Tampa Bay area can expect heavy late-day storms today and Monday with some severe weather possible.

Tropical Storm Ernesto churns toward Mexico; separate tropical wave to bring rain locally 08/04/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 5, 2012 12:27am]

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