Tropical Storm Ernesto is moving north-northwest through South Florida at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
Bay News 9 meteorologists said the storm going through central Florida is a far better scenario than staying in the gulf or the Atlantic Ocean.
The current forecast calls for the storm to head through Florida and out to the Atlantic Ocean, then rapidly move into the Carolinas.
A flood watch is in effect for Polk, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties until the evening. An inland tropical storm warning has been posted for Polk County.
There are no longer any hurricane watches posted for Ernesto in Florida. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Florida's entire east coast and from Bonita Beach south to the Florida Keys.
A tropical storm watch that had been in effect for the Gulf Coast from Tarpon Springs to Englewood has been dropped.