TROPICAL STORM FLORENCE JOINS ERNESTO IN ATLANTIC
Jamaica on alert as forecast calls for Ernesto becoming hurricane
After a lull in the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Florence formed
on Saturday, joining Ernesto as both moved west on paths that could eventually take them to the U.S. coast.
Florence has sustained winds up to 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.
It was still in the deep Atlantic, but on a path towards the Caribbean.
Ernesto was packing sustained winds of 50 mph and should pass south of Jamaica on Sunday, the center stated. "Ernesto is forecast to become a hurricane ... in a day or two," it added.
After Jamaica, which issued a tropical storm warning, Ernesto will likely head toward Grand Cayman, arriving Monday, and then Cancun/Cozumel in Mexico on Wednesday, weather.com reported.
Weather.com added it was "unclear whether Ernesto poses a threat to the U.S. late next week."
On Friday, the storm swept over the tiny island of St. Lucia.
Businesses and government offices were ordered closed until noon on St. Lucia as Ernesto passed over the island, churning up 12-foot waves a few miles off its north shore.
It moved so quickly that St. Lucia got less than an inch of rain and there were no reports of damage or injuries.
August and September are usually the most active months of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
Prior to Ernesto forming on Thursday, the last Atlantic tropical storm was Debby more than a month ago. It drenched Florida and eight deaths were tied to the storm.
U.S. government forecasters in May predicted a "normal" 2012 season, saying 9-15 named storms could be expected. Between 4-8 of those were predicted to become hurricanes.