Tropical Storm Ernesto is a growing threat to the Caribbean, the Gulf and probably, late in the week, to the United States. New Orleans seems likely to be spared. But Florida, which took such a battering in 2004 and again last year, looks like the most likely U.S. target. In the meantime, hurricane watches and warnings are posted for parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Top sustained winds are already at 70 mph - close to hurricane force. Ernesto is expected to become a hurricane later this morning, the first of the season. Some islands could see 6 to 12 inches of rain.