Ernesto weakens, but new strength forecast
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
People take refuge from Hurricane Ernesto in a shelter Tuesday in the Mahahual community on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
- Ernesto continues to weaken but is expected to become a hurricane again
- The storm's intensity drops after making first landfall in Mexcio
- The storm is expected to enter the Bay of Campeche Wednesday afternoon
- Another landfall is predicted for Thursday
(CNN) -- Despite weakening, Tropical Storm Ernesto poured heavy rains Wednesday on Mexico and portions of Central America, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ernesto, once a Category 1 hurricane, was moving into the Bay of Campeche where it is expected to become a hurricane again.
As of 8 p.m. ET, the storm was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) east-northeast of Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, the center reported. Ernesto was moving west at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Officials in Ciudad del Carmen reported one gust of 58 mph.
The storm is expected to make landfall a second time on Mexico's coast on Thursday.
Mexico issued a hurricane watch along the coast from Barra de Nautla to Coatzacoalcos, an area that includes the coastal city of Veracruz.
Hurricane Ernesto is expected to weaken as it crosses the Yucatan before emerging in the Bay of Campeche.
Between 4 to 8 inches of rain are expected in some areas of the region, with as much as 12 inches in parts of the Mexican states of Tabasco and Veracruz.
Belize, the southern Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala may see as much as 4 inches of rain, the hurricane center said.
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Ernesto will cause a surge when it reaches the coast, increasing water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in the area near and north of where the storm makes landfall, the hurricane center said.
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Ernesto made initial landfall Tuesday night as a Category 1 hurricane in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula.
In Chetumal, the state capital, officials asked residents to remain indoors throughout the night as the storm hit.
Some areas were flooded or without electricity Wednesday morning.
Civil protection officials worked throughout the storm to evacuate some residents living in low-lying areas who had initially refused to leave, a local journalist, Carlos Perez, told CNN en Español.
Shelters were open throughout the area, providing food, he said.
In Honduras, classes were canceled in the northern part of the country, where the effects of the storm were felt. There was flooding in some areas, but no major damage.
Journalist Elvin Sandoval contributed to this report.
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