Ernesto was upgraded to a category 1 hurricane as it heads toward landfall on the east coast of the Yucatan.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, Ernesto was located 18.7 North, 87.7 West, or about 40 miles east-northeast of Chetumula, Mexico. Ernesto packed 85 mph winds and was moving west at 15 mph.

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning Monday as the storm advanced. Cozumel was included in that warning.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the coast of Belize from south to Belize City southward to the border of Guatemala. The same warning was also in effect from north of Tulum to Cabo Catoche on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The eye of the storm will pass just to the north of Chetumal, Mexico, in a sparsely populated region of the coast. A 2- to 4-foot storm surge is expected just to the north of the eye wall. Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen are far enough north of the center of the storm so that very minimal effects will be felt there, including gusty breezes, heavy surf, and periodic bands of rain. 

Ernesto will weaken back to a tropical storm as it crosses the Yucatan on Wednesday.  It will emerge over the Bay of Campeche on Thursday, where it could re-strengthen, possibly back to hurricane status, before it finally reaches the Mexican coast north of Veracruz on Friday. 

Once it makes landfall a second time, it will weaken rapidly as it moves inland toward more mountainous regions in the Mexican interior.


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