Ernesto Goes Ashore as Depression Forms in Atlantic

Tropical Storm Ernesto moved onto land and was pouring heavy rains across southern Mexico as the season’s next system formed in the Atlantic.

Tropical Depression Seven developed about 1,155 miles (1,858 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with winds of 35 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory shortly before 5 p.m. East Coast time. The system may become Tropical Storm Gordon tomorrow.

Ernesto, which spent a day moving slowly across the Bay of Campeche, went ashore near Coatzacoalcos at about 2 p.m. East Coast time. Its top winds fell to 45 mph as it dropped flooding rains on the region and moved inland, an 8 p.m. hurricane center advisory shows.

“Weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” the center said in the 8 p.m. advisory. “Ernesto is expected to dissipate over the high terrain of southern Mexico in a day or two.”

At least two people were killed in the Mexican state of Tabasco, according to the Tabasco Hoy newspaper.

Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, closed three oil-export terminals, at Coatzacoalcos, Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, because of the storm. Most of the company’s oil production is in the Bay of Campeche.

Ernesto is about 90 miles west of Coatzacoalcos, moving west at 11 mph, the hurricane center said. After the storm breaks apart, there is a chance the remnants of it could re-form in the Pacific in about three days.

Gilma Weakens

Tropical Storm Gilma in the eastern Pacific reached hurricane status earlier today and is now losing strength about 715 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, where it isn’t a threat to land.

In addition to the tropical depression, which may follow the Ernesto into the Caribbean, the hurricane center is tracking the remains of Tropical Storm Florence in the Atlantic along with a tropical wave that has just moved off the African coast.

The wave has about a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical system in the next two days. The remains of Florence have a 10 percent chance of regenerating into a storm.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center today increased its seasonal Atlantic storm forecast to 12 to 17 systems, up from nine to 15 predicted in May.

Part of the reason given for the increase was that conditions between the Caribbean and Africa are ripe for storm formation. The area is often called the main development region and it is where Tropical Depression Seven and storms Florence and Ernesto formed.

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