Atlantic Storm Speeds West, Ernesto Breaks Up Over Mexico

Ernesto, formerly a hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it dissipated over the mountains of southern Mexico today while the next Atlantic weather system sped westward toward the Caribbean.

Tropical Depression Seven was 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) from the Windward Islands and moving “rapidly” west with 35 miles per hour winds, the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. Atlantic time advisory. The system may become Tropical Storm Gordon if winds reach 39 mph, the Miami-based center said.

Ernesto, which spent a day moving across the Bay of Campeche, went ashore near Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, yesterday and has been flooding the region with heavy rain as it moved inland.

“Rainfall amounts may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the NHC said today. The system was 100 miles north-northwest of Oaxaca and moving west.

With six systems being tracked in the Atlantic as well as in and off Mexico, the hurricane season that runs through November has intensified this week.

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

Conditions between the Caribbean and Africa are ripe for further storm formation, the center said. The area is often the main storm development region, and is where Ernesto and Tropical Depression Seven started.

A tropical wave between the Cape Verde Islands and Africa has conditions considered 50 percent likely to develop into a tropical depression in the next two days, the center said.

The remnant of Tropical Storm Florence north of Puerto Rico has a 10 percent chance of reforming into a tropical cyclone, the NHC also said.

In the Pacific off Mexico, Tropical Storm Gilma weakened about 655 miles from the southern tip of Baja California with maximum winds of 65 mph. It poses no danger to land, it said.

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