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Tropical Storm Ernesto nears the US Coast

Sunday, August 27, 2006

As Tropical Storm Ernesto moves toward the US coast, the weather system has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, but forecasters warn the storm could re-strengthen into a category 2 or possibly category 3 hurricane by Thursday.

Information on the storm's location and direction can also be found on the NOAA's National Hurricane Center web page and on NIST Shortwave Radio Station WWV on 2.500, 5.000, 10.000, 15.000, and 20.000 MHz at 8, 9, and 10 minutes past the hour. Propagation for evening reception is usually best on 10 and 15 MHz. The ARRL have announced that the WX4NHC Amateur Radio Hurricane net will convene at 13:00 UTC on 14.325 MHz (SSB) on Monday, 28 August. HWN Assistant Net Manager Bobby Graves (KB5HAV) has announced that a Bilingual Support Team will be present to assist with Spanish language translation. "Ernesto could become a potentially dangerous hurricane as it moves across the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico," Julio Ripoll (WD4R) said, citing NHC forecaster Jack Bevin. Ripoll said the "Cone of Uncertainty" still includes most of South Florida and the Florida Keys. WX4NHC will be used for providing observed and measured weather data to the NHC for assistance in forecasting

SATERN will be active on 14.235 MHz (SSB) to handle health & welfare calls.

The Government of Cuba has issued a hurricane watch for the provinces of Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.

The State of Florida has ordered a tourist evacuation of the Florida Keys and declared a State of Emergency in preparation for the Tropical Storm's landfall, which is expected in the next 24 hours.

The Department of Homeland security has warned that New Orleans could endure storm damage. One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Katrina caused widespread devastation to New Orleans after dykes designed to hold back the Gulf of Mexico failed, flooding the city and leaving thousands stranded for days without access to food, water or shelter. The subsequent evacuation and cleanup left a considerable dent in the US economy.

Economic forecasters say that the storm could cause a sharp rise in electronic trading overnight. The possibility of landfall in the Gulf of Mexico caused natural gas commodity prices to rise by 6% on Friday. The Gulf of Mexico is also a key production center for crude oil. After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, refined oil production dropped by 22%, causing a surge in the price of gasoline at the pumps. In Canada pump prices soared to $1.34/litre. Simliar increases were seen across the US in Katrina's wake, reaching $1.15 US/gallon.

John Kerr is the editor of Global Resources Trader, a newsletter of MarketWatch.

The storm is "certainly one of the big drivers behind oil and gas right now, but there are so many uncertainties ... from Venezuela's new Chinese deal, to Israel threatening to attack Iran and new violence in Nigeria," said Kerr, in comments ahead of the weather system's upgrade. "On top of all that, the BP announcement that everything is not so hunky-dory in Alaska is rallying prices too," he said (quote from marketwatch.com)

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