Ernesto Swirls Toward Cuba

AUGUST 28, 2006 - Posted at 7:31 a.m. CDT

MIAMI (AP) - A hurricane watch is now posted in south Florida, as Tropical Storm Ernesto spins closer.  Governor Jeb Bush has issued a state of emergency.

The watch covers an area from Deerfield Beach southward on the east coast and from Chokoloskee southward to the west coast.  The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center says the hurricane watch remains in effect for all of the Florida Keys.  It means hurricane conditions could develop in the area within 36 hours.

Ernesto's winds are at 50 miles-per-hour but forecasters say it could strengthen and become a hurricane again.

At last report, Ernesto was centered 45 miles south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and about 600 miles from the middle and lower Keys.  It's moving northwest at 12 miles-per-hour.

The storm lashed the southern coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with heavy rain Sunday, flooding homes.  Haiti reports at least one death.

NASA is keeping close tabs on the storm, and has scrapped plans to launch the space shuttle Atlantis tomorrow.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)