Tropical Storm Ernesto poses threat to Jamaica, Cayman Islands By Gay Nagle Myers / August 25, 2006 Share 1 -- National Hurricane Center director to retireIn a surprise announcement, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center director, announced on Aug. 25 that he will retire from his post in January. Mayfield, who guided Americans through the busiest, most destructive Atlantic hurricane season on record in 2005 with 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, has been NHC director since 2000.He joined the center in 1972 as an intern, became a hurricane specialist in 1988, a senior specialist in 1990 and was named deputy director in 1998. -- G.N.M.Tropical Storm Ernesto could become the first hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season -- at least according to what forecasters are predicting at the National Hurricane Center. The storm, which began as a tropical wave near the Windward Islands in the Caribbean on Aug. 23 and moved up a notch to a tropical depression on Aug. 24, became the season's fifth named storm Aug. 25 as it moved toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, spinning off rain and thunderstorms as far south as Trinidad.Rains were predicted for Puerto Rico and Hispaniola over the weekend.Forecasters at the NHC said Ernesto could become a hurricane by morning on Aug. 28, but would not predict where or when it would make landfall.Meanwhile, preparations were underway in both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands where officials urged residents to pay close attention to the storm's track.Ernesto has sustained winds near 40 mph, far short of the hurricane threshold of 74 mph or higher, but additional strengthening is expected, according to the NHC.Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Debby -- just barely holding onto tropical storm-strength with winds of 40 mph -- is expected to further weaken over the open Atlantic, posing only a threat to shipping lanes.To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.Get More!To keep track of the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season and how it is affecting the travel industry, click here. More links will be added as articles go live on TravelWeekly.com.