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Ernesto still a threat to Jamaica

Saturday, August 04, 2012 | 3:30 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Meteorological Service has continued the Tropical Storm warning for Jamaica as Ernesto continues to move towards the west and closer to the island. This means that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained wind speeds of 34-63 knots or 63-118 km/h, are expected for sections of the island in 36 hours or less.

At 1:00 p.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Ernesto was located near Latitude 14.5 degrees North, Longitude 69.3 degrees West; about 820 kilometres (510 miles) east-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica or 440 kilometres (270 miles) south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Ernesto is now moving towards the west near 30 km/h (18 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue during the next 48 hours.

Maximum sustained winds are near 85 km/h (50 mph), with higher gusts, and no significant change in strength is expected today.

Intensification to hurricane strength is, however, possible on Sunday as the tropical storm begins to move south of Jamaica; hence, the warning for the island has been upgraded. Tropical storm force winds now extend outward up to 165 km (105 miles) mainly north and east of the centre of Ernesto.

Satellite imagery indicates that the outer rain-bands of Tropical Storm Ernesto extend over a large area north of its centre and, on the current forecast track, these could begin to influence the weather over Jamaica by Sunday morning. Periods of heavy rainfall and strong, gusty winds occasionally reaching tropical storm strength, could be experienced mainly over southern parishes on Sunday and Monday.

All small craft operators, including fishers from the cays and banks, should by now have completed all the necessary safety precautions and are advised to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been discontinued and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal.

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