03-21-2018  9:22 am      •     
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CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Central American authorities started evacuations as Tropical Storm Ernesto churned toward the Honduran coast Monday.

In Nicaragua, government officials said they were evacuating about 1,500 people in coastal areas and had banned boats from setting sail.

As of Monday morning, the storm was about 145 miles (235 kilometers) east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, the National Hurricane Center reported. Ernesto was moving west at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph.

The storm was expected to pass to the south of the Cayman Islands and near the northern coast of Honduras on Monday night.

Some strengthening is forecast as Ernesto moves across the Caribbean Sea.

Meanwhile, Florence weakened to a tropical depression.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect for the storm, which was about 1,610 miles (2,590 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands on Monday morning, the hurricane center said. It was moving west at about 13 mph.

Maximum sustained winds dipped to 35 mph, and further weakening is forecast in the coming days.

Journalist Samantha Lugo and CNN's Sarah Dillingham contributed to this report.

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