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    Ernesto Almost a Hurricane; Eyes Honduras, Belize

    By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
    August 6, 2012; 2:40 AM ET
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    This Monday afternoon infrared satellite image is courtesy of NOAA.

    Ernesto is becoming much better organized over the Caribbean and will likely become a hurricane by tonight. Heavy showers and thunderstorms will soak the Cayman Islands through tonight before intensifying and approaching the coast of Honduras before taking aim on Belize.

    Ernesto struggled to become better organized over the weekend, but warm water and low wind shear will provide fuel for strengthening during the next couple of days. Ernesto is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in Belize early Wednesday morning.

    The latest information on Ernesto can be found in this news story.

    After inundating Jamiaca with heavy showers and thunderstorms over the weekend, the Cayman Islands can expect similar weather through tonight. Localized rainfall totals of 2-4 inches are expected through tonight which can prompt some flooding.

    Rough surf will also continue throughout area beaches and a minor storm surge will occur on southern and eastern facing shores.

    Ernesto will approach the northern coast of Honduras and northeastern Nicaragua tonight with flooding downpours and tropical storm force winds. Although the center of Ernesto is forecast to stay just off of the Honduras coast through Tuesday, strong winds and flooding rain will lash the coast through at least Tuesday night.

    Ernesto will continue on that west-northwest track on Tuesday before making landfall somewhere in Belize late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

    Dangerous flash flooding and rainfall amounts of over one foot will bring a perilous situation to Belize on Wednesday. Hurricane force winds will lash coastal areas as well. Mudslides and power outages are all likely to occur with this storm.

    After passing over the Yucatan, Ernesto could emerge in the southern Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm on Thursday.

    Residents along the Gulf Coast and in northeastern Mexico are urged to keep an eye on the progress of Ernesto. Any type of significant impacts to the U.S. is unlikely with Ernesto, but these situations can change quickly.

    Keep checking back with AccuWeather.com as we continue to update you on the active Atlantic Ocean.

    Content contributed by AccuWeather Meteorologist Andy Mussoline

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