MIAMI (AP) _ Tropical Storm Ernesto, the fifth named storm of the 2000 hurricane season, formed early Saturday deep in the Atlantic Ocean but posed no immediate threat to land, a meteorologist said.

``It's a minimal tropical storm,'' said Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Ernesto's top sustained winds were near 40 mph Saturday, and its tropical storm force winds extended 115 miles from its center. The storm was about 520 miles east of the Leeward Islands, about 1,700 miles southeast of Florida. It was moving west-northwest at about 15 mph.

Blake said Ernesto was expected to remain over open ocean at least through Monday.