Ernesto weakens to tropical storm

Posted at 7:03 AM, Aug 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-08 07:03:05-04

(CNN) — Ernesto weakened to a tropical storm early Wednesday as it doused Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with rain, the National Hurricane Center said.

Even though Ernesto was no longer a Category 1 hurricane it was still battering the area with 70 mph winds and heavy rain.

Follow Ernesto with our interactive hurricane tracker

As of 5 a.m. ET, the storm was about 55 mi (85 kilometers) northwest of Chetumal, Mexico, the National Hurricane Center reported. Ernesto was moving west at 15 mph.

The storm is forecast to move into the Bay of Campeche Wednesday afternoon, where it could build back to hurricane strength.

Between 4 to 8 inches of rain are expected in some area with as much as 12 inches in some areas in Belize, the southern Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala, the hurricane center said.

Ernesto will cause a surge when it reaches the coast, increasing water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels in the area near and north of where the storm makes landfall, the hurricane center said.