Jamaica braces for onslaught of storm

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IOL pic june25 usa weather storm debby Associated Press U.S. forecasters said Tropical Storm Ernesto should strengthen into a hurricane before hitting Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

Roseau - Tropical Storm Ernesto blew across open waters on Saturday on a projected path that would skirt Jamaica and hit Mexico after dumping heavy rain on islands in the eastern Caribbean.

The US National Hurricane Centre said Ernesto was expected to roll south of Jamaica as a hurricane Sunday afternoon. The forecast would carry it into the coastal resorts of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday.

On Friday, Dominica closed its international airport for a second day, while St. Lucia ordered businesses to close for half the day as Ernesto swept through the area. A ferry that travels to Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia also temporarily suspended service.

No damage or flooding was reported on islands affected by the storm.

The hurricane Centre said Ernesto had maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph (95 kph) early Saturday. It was about 305 miles (490 kilometres) south-southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was moving westward at 18 mph (30 kph).

Meanwhile, a new tropical storm, Florence, formed further out in the Atlantic. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was about 330 miles (530 kilometres) west of the Cape Verde Islands. The National Hurricane Centre said it was not expected to reach hurricane force as it marches generally westward. - Sapa-AP

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