Tropical Storm Ernesto

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) -- Ernesto, the season's first hurricane, has been downgraded to a tropical storm but is expected to regain strength later in the week as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico.

Its winds have weakened to 60 miles-an-hour as it lashes Haiti with heavy rain, bringing the possibility of devastating mudslides to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Forecasters say it's still too early to predict a landfall along the U-S Gulf Coast but that there are no longer indications of a threat to the New Orleans region, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina a year ago Tuesday.

The entire Florida Keys are under a hurricane watch and forecasters expect advisories to be posted later for other parts of the state. Governor Jeb Bush today ordered visitors to leave the Keys as a precaution.

The National Hurricane Center looks for Ernesto to regain strength and possibly become a hurricane again before hitting the southeastern coast of Cuba tomorrow.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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