Florida Preps for Ernesto

Tropical Storm Ernesto Moving Over Eastern Cuba...Forecast to Impact the Keys and the Southern Peninsula as a Strong Tropical Storm or Category 1 Hurricane Late Tuesday Night into Wednesday.

Hurricane Watches in Effect Along Florida's East Coast from New Smyrna Beach Southward on the Atlantic Coast and from South of Chokoloskee Southward Along the Gulf Coast...Tropical Storm Warnings in Effect from Vero Beach Southward on the East Coast and from South of Chokoloskee Southward on the West Coast, including Lake Okeechobee.

Floridians Urged to Finalize Disaster Plans and Follow the Advice of Local Officials...

At 8 PM Monday, Tropical Storm Ernesto was located just inland over eastern Cuba, or about 350 miles southeast of Miami. Movement is toward the west-northwest near 11 mph. A northwestward motion is expected to resume later tonight, which would take the center of circulation off the north coast of Cuba during the next 6 to 12 hours.

Maximum sustained are near 40 mph, with higher gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center. Ernesto is expected to strengthen once it emerges over the warm waters of the Florida Straits.

The system is currently forecast to impact the Keys and the southern peninsula as a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane late Tuesday night into Wednesday.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. Inland hurricane watches have also been issued for most of interior south and east-central Florida.

It is important for Floridians not to focus on the exact projected track due to the uncertainty in the forecast. If you are in a Hurricane Watch area, please follow the advice that local officials provide to protect life and property.

Ernesto could spread tropical storm conditions into the Keys and south Florida beginning tomorrow afternoon. The entire Florida peninsula falls within the average 3-day forecast error swath.

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