Aug 2, 2012 4:55 PM by Rob Perillo
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression #5 to Tropical Storm Ernesto Thursday afternoon based on Hurricane Hunter data.
Ernesto was located in the Western Tropical Atlantic about 295 miles east of the Windward Islands, or 12.8N and 56.6W.
Maximum sustained winds were 50mph with gradual strengthening process expected beyond 24-48 hours as conditions are not conducive for significant intensification at this time.
Conditions are expected to become more favorable for development as the system approaches the Northwestern Caribbean late in the weekend/early next week.
The official forecast calls for Ernesto to become a hurricane early next week.
Ernesto is moving to the west at 22mph which will insure slow strengthening at best, but could slow down and turn more west-northwestward in a few days thereby allowing for an intensification process.
The forecast track will keep Ernesto a Carribbean threat over the next 5-6 days, possibly threatening the Yucatan Peninsula mid-next week.
This system may become a Gulf of Mexico threat (especially the Southern and Western Gulf) late next week.
National Hurricane Center Forecast Track: