BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Several Caribbean countries remain on either tropical storm warning or hurricane watches as a Tropical Storm Ernesto continues its westward track across the Caribbean Sea.

Jamaica remains on a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch, the Cayman Islands under a hurricane watch, and the south coast of Hispaniola, from the Haiti-Dominican republic border westward to the southwestern tip of Haiti, on a tropical storm warning.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said interests in the northwestern Caribbean Sea including Cuba, the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico should monitor the progress of Ernesto.

According to the NHC, at 2 p.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Ernesto was located near latitude 15.5 north, longitude 71.8 west or about 245 miles (.395 km) southwest of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and about 370 miles (.595 km) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

Ernesto is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 miles per hour (24 km/hr) and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours, bringing the core of the system south of the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday afternoon and near Jamaica on Sunday, the NHC said.

Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (.85 km/hr) with higher gusts and some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. Ernesto could be near hurricane strength as it passes near Jamaica, the NHC added.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the centre.