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Ernesto douses Yucatan Peninsula

Aug. 8, 2012 at 11:53 PM   |   Comments

CHETUMAL, Mexico, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Ernesto moved back out over open water in the Bay of Campeche Wednesday night and began to regain strength, U.S. forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 p.m. EDT advisory that Ernesto had pumped back up with sustained winds of 65 mph after calming down to 50 mph while over the Yucatan Peninsula. The center of the storm was about 15 miles north of Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, and about 15 miles east-northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, heading west at mph, the hurricane center said.

Despite Ernesto having been reduced from a Category 1 hurricane to tropical storm status, the Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the Gulf Coast of Mexico from Veracruz eastward to Chilitepec.

A tropical storm warning was in place from north of Veracruz to Barra de Nautla. A tropical storm warning was discontinued for north of Campeche.

The storm was expected to gain some strength into early Thursday, then weaken again after moving over land later Thursday, the hurricane center forecasters said.

Tourist and commercial activities ground to a halt Tuesday across Quintana Roo state and more than 2,000 people were evacuated, El Universal reported. Dozens of tourists were evacuated from Mahahual and bused to Chetumal, Informador.com reported.

The airport in Chetumal suspended operations and several main roads were closed, officials said.

The Mexican army made preparations to assist in areas under weather watches and warnings and temporary shelters were being built, El Universal said.

Hotel owners reported a drop in occupancy rates as many visitors left popular destinations because of Ernesto, Informador.com said.

Cruise ships traveling to the island of Cozumel and the port of Mahahual were diverted by shipping authorities to Veracruz, officials said.

Rainfall associated with the storm was to range from just a few inches to up to a foot in some areas of Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala.

Flash floods, mudslides and dangerous storm surges are possible throughout the region, forecasters said.

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