<img src="http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT05/refresh/AL0512W5_NL_sm2+gif/120138W5_NL_sm.gif" border="0" height="200 width"250" align="right">
(7:30 a.m. EDT) -- Tropical Storm Ernesto, the fifth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is out over open water again in the Gulf of Mexico, gaining strength after weakening while crossing the Yucatan Peninsula overnight. The storm has sparked numerous itinerary changes, including the re-routing of two more Carnival ships on Wednesday.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. EDT advisory, Ernesto is now packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and potentially bringing heavy rains to coastal Mexico. The storm is likely to reach hurricane strength yet again today, before making landfall this evening somewhere between Coatzacoalcos and Alvarado, in Mexico. Ernesto was a hurricane when it came ashore over the Yucatan; <a href="/news/news.cfm?ID=4938 class="plain">click here to see how ports were affected.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Carnival Elation, which left from New Orleans on Monday, skipped Wednesday's scheduled call in Progreso, Mexico, spending the day at sea instead. The ship will resume its originally scheduled itinerary on Thursday when it visits Cozumel.
Carnival Imagination, currently on a four-night Caribbean cruise that left Monday from Miami, is overnighting in Nassau, Bahamas, Wednesday. The original itinerary included a Wednesday call in Cozumel.
Carnival Legend, which embarked from Tampa on seven-night Western Caribbean cruise on Sunday, is sailing an altered itinerary. Instead of visiting Belize and Mahogany Bay, Honduras, the ship called on Montego Bay, Jamaica (Wednesday) and is adding a third day at sea.
Carnival swapped the order for Carnival Triumph's five-night Western Caribbean cruise, which left from Galveston on Saturday. The ship visited Cozumel on Monday and Progreso Tuesday.
Carnival also altered the itinerary for Carnival Dream, which departed from Port Canaveral on Saturday on a seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary. The ship called on Cozumel (Monday) as scheduled, but visited Progreso Tuesday instead of Belize, and will visit the Eastern Caribbean ports of Freeport (Thursday) and Nassau (Friday).
Disney Fantasy, which embarked from Port Canaveral on Saturday, is sailing an Eastern Caribbean itinerary rather than a Western Caribbean itinerary.
Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships and Ports
The latest NHC projections show the storm remaining close to shore in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico (Bahia de Campeche) on Thursday. There is a hurricane warning in effect from Veracruz to Chilitepec in Mexico.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor