Tropical Storm Ernesto weakens

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Satellite photograph of Hurricane Ernesto

Tropical Storm Ernesto has weakened over Florida. It is expected to make another landfall on the North Carolina coast as a tropical storm. Ernesto came ashore early this morning in the Florida Keys with less intensity than expected by forecasters. The storm had weakened to a tropical depression as it moved up the Florida peninsula. It is expected to go to Charleston, South Carolina. Tropical storm watches have been issued for Savannah, Georgia, to Morehead City, North Carolina.

At 5 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), Ernesto's sustained winds were about 35 mph (56 kph), as stated by the National Hurricane Center. The center of the system was still over Florida, about 55 miles (90 km) south-southwest of Cape Canaveral.

Forecasters say Ernesto could regain tropical storm status with peak winds exceeding 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour.

"Ernesto has the potential to regain tropical storm strength on Thursday over the Atlantic," the hurricane center said.

Two deaths were reported in separate wrecks in Florida.

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