KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Floridians are getting ready for a brush with Tropical Storm Ernesto.
About 400 miles of coast are under a hurricane watch from New Smyrna Beach southward on the east coast and from Chokoloskee southward on the west coast. Sustained winds of at least 74 miles-an-hour are possible by late tomorrow night. The Keys were put under a watch yesterday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center says that's because Ernesto could become a hurricane after it reaches the warm waters north of Cuba. Forecasters say there is a ten percent chance of hurricane-force winds striking South Florida and a 60 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds.
A state of emergency is in effect for all Florida, because forecasters say Ernesto could potentially threaten a large swath of the state by late in the week.
At 11 am, the storm had top sustained winds of 40 miles-an-hour. It's centered over Cuba, about 35 miles northwest of Guantanamo, and about 485 miles southeast from Key West. It's moving northwest at ten miles-an-hour.
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