NASA's Terra satellite snapped a picture of Tropical Storm Ernesto as it swirled over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late yesterday afternoon (Aug. 7).
Ernesto made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just after 10 p.m. PT yesterday with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph).
As its center has moved over land, Ernesto has steadily weakened and now has winds of 50 mph (85 kph). But while its winds have weakened, it has still produced considerable rain. It is expected to produce total rainfalls of 4 and 8 inches (10 and 20 centimeters) with maximums of 12 inches (30 cm) over Belize, northern Guatemala and the Yucatan.
The center of Ernesto's circulation will emerge over the Bay of Campeche tonight as the storm continues on its westward course. If the center stays over the bay's waters long enough, it could re-strengthen somewhat, but if it stays close to land, it will likely weaken further, according to the latest analysis from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Ernesto will then make its second landfall over the Gulf coast of Mexico. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning are in place for portions of the coast.
Ernesto was the second hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Chris was the first. Ernesto is also the fifth named storm of the hurricane season. So far there have been six named storms, a category that includes tropical storms and hurricanes.
Forecasters are watching another tropical system far out in the Atlantic, which they have said has a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be issuing an updated forecast for the remainder of the 2012 season on Thursday (Aug. 9). August and September are typically the busiest months of the hurricane season.