Ernesto reaches hurricane strength as it approaches the Yucatan

By: Angela Fritz , 8:55 PM GMT on August 07, 2012

Ernesto strengthened to a category 1 hurricane this afternoon after the morning hurricane hunter mission found winds of 80 mph, which is unusual for a hurricane without an eye wall. The hunters also found a minimum central pressure of 984 mb, which has dropped since this morning. The next hurricane hunter mission is scheduled to reach the center of the hurricane around 8pm EDT. The rain bands from Ernesto have reached the coast of Belize and Mexico as it continues to move west along the coast of Honduras, and landfall is expected north of the the Belize/Mexico border tonight around midnight. The Yucatan Basin buoy is now reporting gusts up to 53 mph, with sustained winds around 40 mph and 19 foot waves. These gusts are about 10 mph stronger than this morning's readings. Weather stations along the coast of Mexico and Belize aren't reporting winds stronger than 10 mph, however, they are expected to pick up around 8 or 9pm EDT tonight. The island of Roatan in Honduras is experiencing winds around 15 mph this afternoon, along with some light to moderate rainfall. Honduras seems to be the most impacted country so far, although they have avoided issuing evacuations. Nicaragua, however, has evacuated 1,500 people as of last night, and Mexico's authorities have evacuated around 600 residents from Punta Allen, which is a fishing village between Cozumel and Chetumal.

Visible satellite imagery suggests Ernesto still has the potential to develop an eye wall before landfall, as strong, organized thunderstorms are present in all four quadrants of the hurricane. Infrared satellite imagery shows the clockwise circulation at high levels (the upper level anti-cyclone) which will help ventilate the hurricane and could support further enhancement. If Ernesto wasn't approaching landfall, it would likely continue to strengthen and could have even experienced a period of rapid intensification, given the heat content of the Caribbean Sea. Wind shear around the hurricane remains low at 5-10 knots.


Figure 1. Radar image from Belize as the outer rain bands of Ernesto approach. This image was captured at 2:30pm EDT.


Figure 2. IR satellite imagery of Hurricane Ernesto captured at 4:15pm EDT.

Forecast for Ernesto
Ernesto will continue to track west this afternoon and evening, making landfall north of the Belize/Mexico border around midnight tonight. Given the current state of the hurricane, some more intensification is possible over the next few hours as it approaches land. Heavy rains continue to be the main threat from Hurricane Ernesto. The Hurricane Center is forecasting 4 to 8 inches of rain to fall, increasing in the higher elevation of Belize. After landfall, the storm will take about a day to cross the Yucatan, and the terrain will diminish its winds. Once Ernesto re-emerges over water into the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico, wind shear will be light and ocean waters warm with high heat content. Ernesto is then expected to redevelop some strength and potentially regain hurricane status while over water, which a few of the models are suggesting. Second landfall will probably occur Friday morning around Veracruz, Mexico, but could reach land anywhere from Tuxapan to Coatzacoalcos.


Figure 3. Webcam image from Caye Walker Village in Belize.

Angela


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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1044. JLPR2
00z, check it out, that's 92L around 43W.

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Glad to hear Dr. Masters thinks the last part of hurricane season won't be as active as the first part (If I read his post correctly). That's good news for us on the GOM.
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Flo certainly had a blow-up of thunderstorms in the last few hours. Who thinks Flo or 92L has a chance going to the East Coast? Someone showed an 18Z graphic with storms hitting the coast. Can you post more of the model run?
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Quoting angiest:
All right, good night everyone.


Yeah, sounds like an excellent plan. Goodnight.
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Big difference a little timing makes:

700-850 mb steering





500-850 mb steering. Could drive a few 1,000 big trucks through this!!!

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1038. ncstorm
GFS is showing ex 91L taking a turn up the east coast..



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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



The tenacious ones defying the odds keep me looking over my shoulder. Makes you wonder what Flo would do in a more hospitable environment. Who knows, the longer she keeps it alive, she'll eventually find it.




If ex-Flo survives the shear she's about to enter... there is a better environment ahead.
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1036. angiest
All right, good night everyone.
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
Everytime they remove her floater or say she's dead, she resurrects herself.

If not for the shear to her west, I might give her a chance, but it looks like curtains for her, unless she manages to survived the shear. Who knows, the way things have been playing out this season. We're liable to see a hurricane at the North Pole.



The tenacious ones defying the odds keep me looking over my shoulder. Makes you wonder what Flo would do in a more hospitable environment. Who knows, the longer she keeps it alive, she'll eventually find it.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
000
WTNT65 KNHC 080318
TCUAT5

HURRICANE ERNESTO TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL052012
1015 PM CDT TUE AUG 07 2012

...BELIZE RADAR INDICATES ERNESTO HAS MADE LANDFALL ALONG THE
SOUTHERN YUCATAN COAST
...

AT 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...DATA FROM THE BELIZE RADAR INDICATE
HURRICANE ERNESTO MADE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHERN COAST OF THE
YUCATAN PENINSULA NEAR MAHAHUAL MEXICO AS A CATEGORY 1 HURRICANE.

SUMMARY OF 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.7N 87.7W
ABOUT 0 MI...0 KM E OF MAHAHUAL MEXICO
ABOUT 40 MI...65 KM ENE OF CHETUMAL MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 270 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES

$$
FORECASTER STEWART/CANGIALOSI


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1033. angiest
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Kinda reminds me of Alex 2010 at mainland Mexico landfall...


Come to think of it, I believe Ernesto will turn out like a mixture of Alex and Karl 10', From now on.


Alex was huge and dumped a lot of rain all over southern Texas. Karl was rather small and much further away, yet still spread a few feeder bands as far as Houston (I blogged it and captured some forecast discussions. I wonder how much of the western Gulf might wind up feeling impacts from Ernesto.
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1032. ycd0108
Mexican authorities made a good call to evacuate Punta Allen sooner rather than later. The road there is mud and sand between the Carib and an huge lagoon and at some points it is really just a 100 meter wide dune with a muddy road on top.
Great place to visit outside of the hurricane season.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Apparently Flo did not like the 0% from the NHC, lol.
Everytime they remove her floater or say she's dead, she resurrects herself.

If not for the shear to her west, I might give her a chance, but it looks like curtains for her, unless she manages to survive the shear. Who knows, the way things have been playing out this season, we're liable to see a hurricane at the North Pole.
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:


quicksilverskys, I know it's been a while since you posted this, so I hope you're still on the blog. I just got home from work and scrolled back to read what's been going on.
This isn't an official weather site but it's a "personal art project" I stumbled upon on the internet that shows the winds all across the continguous states in the US.
I find it mesmerizing and have wanted to share it with Wunderground for a while, but kept forgetting.

Link
Still here! Regardless of the fussing for me to come cook somthing Hee Hee. Let them eat Ummmm.. Not cake.. Cold cuts:) Seriously though thanks for this great link. I understand these things so much better visually. Got another great link on storm history's etc that helped a bunch. Thats why I've hung around here for so many years. This is always fascinating stuff during hurricane season. I swear its addictive. Keep coming back year after year:)
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


And the big wave about to emerge West Africa. Good night.

Wont be looking for development tomorrow... Over the next 3-5 days...
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000
WTNT65 KNHC 080318
TCUAT5

HURRICANE ERNESTO TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL052012
1015 PM CDT TUE AUG 07 2012

...BELIZE RADAR INDICATES ERNESTO HAS MADE LANDFALL ALONG THE
SOUTHERN YUCATAN COAST
...

AT 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...DATA FROM THE BELIZE RADAR INDICATE
HURRICANE ERNESTO MADE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHERN COAST OF THE
YUCATAN PENINSULA NEAR MAHAHUAL MEXICO AS A CATEGORY 1 HURRICANE.

SUMMARY OF 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.7N 87.7W
ABOUT 0 MI...0 KM E OF MAHAHUAL MEXICO
ABOUT 40 MI...65 KM ENE OF CHETUMAL MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 270 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES

$$
FORECASTER STEWART/CANGIALOSI
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Looks to have gotten a little nudge from the Atlantic ridge as it build WSW and shut off the trough. Plains ridge should take over soon as it is nearly overhead.


Kinda reminds me of Alex 2010 at mainland Mexico landfall...


Come to think of it, I believe Ernesto will turn out like a mixture of Alex and Karl 10', From now on.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Good night everyone...
Tomorrow, we will watch and wait to see how Ernesto does going across the Yucatan Terrain... as well as Gilma, 93E, and 92L...

Good night HurricaneDean07, tomorrow will be another interesting day for sure.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Good night everyone...
Tomorrow, we will watch and wait to see how Ernesto does going across the Yucatan Terrain... as well as Gilma, 93E, and 92L...


And the big wave about to emerge West Africa. Good night.
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Good night everyone...
Tomorrow, we will watch and wait to see how Ernesto does going across the Yucatan Terrain... as well as Gilma, 93E, and 92L...
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Looks to have gotten a little nudge from the Atlantic ridge as it built WSW and shut off the trough. Plains ridge should take over soon as it is nearly overhead.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ex 06l tryin



definitely giving it the ol' college try.
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1021. MTWX
Cay Caulker, Belize Live Feed
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Quoting STXHurricanes2012:

made a bad timing schedule lol #fail

Im sure it was a 90 mph Cat 1 at landfall... No recon, meant that the NHC wasn't going to change intensity even if it had strengthened a bit...
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Costa Maya looks to be the landfall location, I said earlier a landfall from Costa Maya to Punta Allen and I got it right.
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1018. angiest
Quoting huntsvle:


Indeed, and Ernesto might have done that too if he had gotten his act to gether a little earlier.


Or if he had formed a month ago when the ridge wasn't as far south.

Sound familiar (from Wikipedia)?

By early on July 9, while south of Puerto Rico, Claudette quickly strengthened over the warm waters of the Caribbean, and its strongest winds were just shy of the threshold for hurricane intensity. Possibly due to its fast forward motion, the storm became disorganized and weakened.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Best picture of the eye yet. It's a shame recon didn't make it.


made a bad timing schedule lol #fail
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Quoting angiest:


Sounds reasonable, and would also support the notion of storms coming in from east to west here such as Claudette (how close Ernesto might have come to this track!)



Indeed, and Ernesto might have done that too if he had gotten his act to gether a little earlier.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
05L/H/E/CX
LANDFALL

You can really see that eye open up right after he came ashore. Bad timing for E...
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Multiple Tropical Cyclones landfalling today.
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Hope all are safe in Ernesto's path, seems to have jumped W or WSW approaching land, south of the TFP as the eye became visible in satellite. Should be landfall headings soon.



Apparently Flo did not like the 0% from the NHC, lol.

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1010. angiest
Quoting huntsvle:


I believe that has to do with the placement of the ridge. SW/v's ride along the edge of it and interact with the seabreeze. Also, the outflow from SE US storms rolls over too. The I-10 corridor has bene quite fortunate this summer.


Sounds reasonable, and would also support the notion of storms coming in from east to west here such as Claudette (how close Ernesto might have come to this track!)

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Good evening I see Ernesto has made landfall and is finally moving as predicted lol
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1008. MTWX
Even better link!!

Link

A little south of the mark, but still a great site!
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1007. JLPR2
Quoting KoritheMan:


Assuming said hypothetical storm remains a low rider, then sure. Why not? But even in a normal year (i.e., one without the ridiculous heat ridge), it's fairly difficult to have a Cape Verde storm make it all the way across. Just the way things roll dude.


That is true and convenient for P.R., our worst hurricanes have been CV ones, like Georges, Hugo and the worst one ever Hurricane San Felipe II or the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928, a full fledged cat 5 crossing the island.

Thanks to how infrequently the CV storms manage to ride all the way from Africa to the Caribbean/Bahamas/US we are now about celebrate the 14th year without a major, or without a hurricane at all.
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1006. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting angiest:


Open this link in a new window/tab: Link

This is a chart of all historical tropical cyclones that have crossed within 65nm of Galveston. If you look at the list, you will see they cluster in June and early July and then from mid to late August through September. Mid July to mid August is the hottest time of year for Texas, when the ridge that usually sits over us in the summer is strongest. While not impossible for it to weaken enough for something to hit during that four week span, it is much more likely to happen later in the season (or in the first couple of weeks) when the ridge is not usually as strong or in the same place.

Bottom line, this region of the Gulf is getting close to its second peak for activity based on history. As far as this year goes, it remains to be seen if the door actually opens.

Oh wow! thanks so much for the fantastic link, I do understand history, seasonal averages etc. I actually see what you're saying:) Its sort of a window of opportunity and just the right circumstances if the right storm comes along.. Great explanation for us not too "scientifically" inclined individuals:)
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1004. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
National Hurricane Center Miami
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #4
TROPICAL CYCLONE GILMA (EP072012)
8:00 PM PDT August 7 2012
==================================

SUBJECT: "Gilma" Strengthening Further..

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Gilma (994 hPa) located at 15.4N 115.0W or 535 NM southwest of Baja California Peninsula, Mexico has sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 11 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale Force Winds
===============
60 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
========================

24 HRS: 16.5N 118.0W - 70 knots (Severe Tropical Cyclone/CAT 1)
48 HRS: 17.5N 120.0W - 65 knots (Severe Tropical Cyclone/CAT 1)
72 HRS: 18.2N 121.0W - 55 knots (Tropical Cyclone)
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1003. etxwx
Link to a Belize newspaper, The Amadala. The article (from yesterday) describes the preparations for Ernesto in that area.
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Quoting mcluvincane:


Lol, thats what a lot of people said about bertha, fran, floyd, Isabel just to name a few hurricanes can fool even the best


Which is why those are exceptions, rather than the rule. Besides, I never said we shouldn't be cognizant or attentive of Cape Verde storms.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys just checking in looks like Ernesto is making landfall

92L stronger on the TWO has it as 30% and orange I knew that would happen

92L models have shifted S and W again with the intensity forecast shows out of the 13 models 8 of the bring it to TS or above and out of the 8, 4 brings it to CAT 1 hurricane
Yes I would think that would be our 3rd Hurricane for the year on 2012.... Thats from what I see as of right now, but remember nothing writen in stone >>> Just Saying :o)

Taco :o)
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1000. Gearsts
Quoting WxGeekVA:
They were wrong for Igor... He should have been a Cat 5...

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Best picture of the eye yet. It's a shame recon didn't make it.

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997. MTWX
Weather at the Phillip Goldston Airport, Belize

Link

Webcam on the northern tip of Belize

Link
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ex 06l tryin

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Looks as if the center has just came ashore.
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Quoting JeffMasters:
I recorded 3 short segments for TWC this morning, which they will run over the next few days. The others were about El Nino and whether 6 storms this early in the year is a harbinger of an active season (probably not, but I do expect the early part of the season will be more active than the later part, due to El Nino.) I'll be doing 2 segments per week for the coming peak part of hurricane season, it looks like. The hot today was from my home office.

I banned JFV64.

Jeff Masters
Thank you Jeff and congrats with the transition. If you want my honest opinion...I'd say relax more and look to the inside "outside" if you will, from 20 years ago. It takes some time, I imagine, but you're tops on a good team.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather