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HURRICANE ERNESTO MAY HAVE WEAKENED AS IT NEARS THE SOUTHWEST PENINSULA OF HAITI

Published:Sunday | August 27, 2006 | 5:02 PM

-TROPICAL STORM WARNING & HURRICANE WATCH REMAIN IN EFFECT-





The TROPICAL STORM WARNING and HURRICANE WATCH have been continued for Jamaica as Hurricane Ernesto continues to move over the waters east of the island. Tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained wind speeds of 63-117 km/h (39-73 mph), are expected to affect Jamaica in 24 hours or less, while hurricane conditions also pose a possible threat within 36 hours.



At 2:00 p.m. the centre of Hurricane Ernesto was located near Latitude 17.8 degrees North, Longitude 73.9 degree West. This is about 260 kilometres (165 miles) east-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica, or about 165 kilometres (105 miles) southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



Ernesto is moving towards the northwest near 15 km/h (9 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue during the next 24 hours. On this track, the centre of the hurricane is projected to pass over or close to the southwestern peninsula of Haiti during the next few hours then east of Jamaica tonight. It is then forecast to move towards southeastern Cuba, remaining over the water to the northeast of Jamaica.



Maximum sustained winds are near 120 km/h (75 mph), with higher gusts. Reports from an air force hurricane hunter plane indicate that Ernesto may have weakened over the past few hours. Hurricane force winds now extends outwards up to 30 kilometres (15 miles), while Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the centre.



Periods of heavy rainfall are possible for sections of mainly northern and eastern parishes this evening and tonight as the system moves close to Jamaica. Flash flooding, landslides and above-normal tide levels are still likely.



All small craft operators, including fishers from the cays and banks, are advised to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been lifted and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal.



The next Bulletin on Hurricane Ernesto will be issued at 5:00 p.m. today.