Ernesto strengthened to a hurricane by August 7, 2012, according to U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters. At 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 7, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Ernesto was located about 185 miles (295 kilometers) east of Chetumal, Mexico. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour and was headed toward the west-northwest at about 14 miles (22 kilometers) per hour.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of Tropical Storm Ernesto on August 7. Ernesto’s spiral arms spanned hundreds of kilometers, and extended over parts of Mexico, Belize, and Honduras.
The NHC forecast that Ernesto, a Category 1 hurricane, would pass over the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula overnight August 7–8. A hurricane warning was in effect for Cozumel; parts of the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula from Chetumal to Tulum; and the entire coast of Belize. Likely hazards included high winds, heavy rains, and storm surges.