Tropical Storm Ernesto, the 5th storm of the 2012 Hurricane season, is starting to make an appearance and it is affecting popular travel destinations.
Ernesto formed in the Atlantic, just west of some popular tropical vacation spots in the southern Caribbean. Currently, the storm if located near the Windward islands, resulting in a tropical storm watch for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.
The storm has reached maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and it is moving in the west direction at 42mph, however Ernesto isn't done yet. The storm's strength is expected to increase as it heads towards toward the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico by next week. The storm is expected to pass to the south of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which could mean that the summer vacations of some travelers may get washed out.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting that Ernesto will gain so much strength that it can turn into a hurricane by as early as Monday. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches winds over 74 mph.
Despite the predictions, storms can be unpredictable. The 2012 hurricane season, which usually falls between June 1 and November 30, started earlier this year as two storms were named before June 1. The early start may have been due to unusually warm temperatures for the year, but July was a quiet month for the hurricane season as no tropical storms formed.
Ernesto could potentially affect vacations, particularly those on cruises as the storm will stir up the seas. So far there are no cruise cancellations made by major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian, Princess or any other cruise line at this time.
The last big storm, Tropical Storm Debby caused some cruise lines to change their itineraries as it made its way around the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.