Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to become Hurricane Ernesto as early as Monday night as it picks up speed, resulting in a hurricane warning for a portion of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.
As of 11 a.m. EST, Ernesto is about 190 miles east northeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras, the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center reported.
Ernesto is moving west northwest at 9 mph with maximum winds of 65 mph, according to the NWS.
"Ernesto could become a hurricane by tonight," the agency said in its latest update on the tropical storm. "Additional strengthening is possible prior to landfall."
With the expectation that Ernesto will become a hurricane, the Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, stretching from Chetumal to Punta Allen.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from north of Punta Allen to Tulum and north of Tulum to Chetumal is under a tropical storm watch, according to the NWS.
Meanwhile, the government of Belize issued a hurricane watch for the entire coast of the Central American Nation while the Cayman Islands discontinued a tropical storm watch for Grand Cayman.
"Hurricane warning" is defined by the NWS as caution that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Such warnings are given "36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds," according to the agency.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the NWS advises.
A "tropical storm warning" means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, the agency said, while a "hurricane watch" means hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.
Hurricane watches are typically given 48 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are expected to hit the area under the watch.
Such winds are "conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous," according to the NWS.
Tropical storm watches are normally issued 48 hours before tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
Ernesto is forecasted to belt Honduras and Nicaragua with three to five inches of rain on the coast with up to eight inches falling over mountainous terrain, the NWS reported.
Storm surge is expected to raise water levels by as much as two to four feet above normal tide levels along the coast of affected areas.
"Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves," the NWS cautioned.
To get the latest updates on Ernesto, go here, where an intermediate advisory on the storm will be posted by the NWS around 2 p.m. EST. A more complete advisory is expected to be up on the agency's website at 5 p.m. EST.
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