Miami, Florida - Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the southern peninsula of Florida as Tropical Storm Ernesto grows closer today.
The watch was issued from Deerfield Beach near Boca Raton southward on the east coast and from Chokoloskee southward on the west coast. A hurricane watch remained in effect for all of the Florida Keys, according to the latest 5 AM advisory.
Ernesto had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles-per-hour today. But forecasters cautioned that the storm could regain hurricane strength before its anticipated arrival today on Cuba's southeastern coast.
A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions could develop in the area within 36 hours.
Visitors were ordered to leave the Keys yesterday and Governor Jeb Bush issued a state of emergency because of the possibility that Ernesto could threaten much of the state.
At 5 am, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was centered 45 miles south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and about 600 miles from the middle and lower Keys. Ernesto is moving northwest at 12 miles-per-hour.
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