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Tropical Storm Ernesto News

August 27, 2006
CONTACT: Public Information (850) 921-0384

Hurricane Ernesto Forms in the Caribbean

--Florida residents need to monitor and prepare--

TALLAHASSEE - Members of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Ernesto (Ernesto) that strengthened overnight in the Caribbean Sea. Tropical Storm or hurricane watches may be issued for portions of the Florida Keys and possibly south Florida later today.

As of 11 A.M. Sunday, the center of Ernesto was located approximately 205 miles to the south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, which is also about 715 miles to the southeast of Key West. Ernesto is moving towards the northwest around 9 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, which is Category 1 hurricane strength.

We are asking Floridians to closely follow this storm, said Florida Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate. Now is a good time to review and update your plans and be prepared to act if called upon by your local officials.

The State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee activated Sunday to a Level 2, or partial activation, with key support functions reporting.

The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicts that Ernesto to strengthen to Category 2 status before making landfall along the Cuban coastline on Monday. Ernesto is expected to emerge over the Florida Straits or the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday morning. Interaction with the Cuban terrain will likely weaken Ernesto to Category 1 strength by Tuesday morning. Ernesto may begin to impact the Keys or south Florida with tropical storm conditions beginning on Tuesday morning. The forecast remains uncertain towards the mid-portion of the week as Ernesto moves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, but there is the potential for Ernesto to re-strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane and threaten the state's west coast or the Big Bend. Residents and visitors to the state should remain updated on the latest information from the National Hurricane Center and local officials as Ernesto potentially threatens Florida.

Residents and marine interests along the Keys should continue to monitor National Weather Service forecasts and heed local officials for marine warnings, and possible evacuation orders. All Floridians are encouraged to review their family disaster plans and check supply kits. To GET A PLAN! Go to: www.FloridaDisaster.org 

For additional information on Hurricane Ernesto and the State Emergency Response Team, please visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management on-line at: www.FloridaDisaster.org

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Last updated: August 28, 2006

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