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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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Does my avatar look familiar?


Igor the terrible.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:


You mean ridge?


Yeah, I meant ridge. But they are pretty much interconnected anyway.
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From Cozumel~ We have a bit of gusting wind and intermittent rain. That is about it so far.
~I hope everyone south west of us is faring well.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Dude, the drought is so strong I have my doubts that even a major hurricane will be able to move significantly poleward toward Texas in any meaningful fashion. Just gotta wait it out at this point.


Well, it's probably likely that any storm that makes it poleward is probably going to be moving pretty quickly anyway and the rainfall would fall so quickly that it would become runoff and not help the drough stricken areas and end up flooding out the major rivers farter to the south. And a storm like that would probably completely devastate the coastline. So EVEN if it helped out the drought far inland, it would create another economic disaster somewhere else.
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Quoting weatherh98:


I was thinking they like structure.

Right so if we can check it more often I e with bouys it would be more accurate. More accurate information can go to the models to give a more accurate track.

In theory, yes. However, it isn't that simple in real life. Microwave data depends on polar orbiting sat passes and isn't as readily available or up to date as normal geostationary imagery, and ship and buoy data is widely scattered so it isn't always the most accessible tool either. It's an imperfect world, and we just have to deal with it.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Dude, the drought is so strong I have my doubts that even a major hurricane will be able to move significantly poleward toward Texas in any meaningful fashion. Just gotta wait it out at this point.


You mean ridge?
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Does my avatar look familiar?
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Post 878 and 879 my last name is hardee
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Quoting huntsvle:


Unfortunately, until the the ridging patters change any weak storm is probably not going to be able to make it to the north. Any other storm that can bust through that ridge is going to be a lot more than just a drought buster.


Dude, the drought is so strong I have my doubts that even a major hurricane will be able to move significantly poleward toward Texas in any meaningful fashion. Just gotta wait it out at this point.
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I think we have landfall guys.

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Quoting quicksilverskys:
Time for my Bi- Annual comment & dumb question. (been Lurking since about 2002 or so:)
First, total agreement about too many other "shows" on TWC now. Guess I am weird, I go there to actually watch the weather....
Now Dumb question,(questions, many) Whats the chances of getting anything in the way of a tropical "drought buster" to come up thru TX, OK this year?? What conditions would it take to get one into the GM & headed this way?? What about the new one behind Ernesto, any better chances? Is there any way with the steering patterns etc that Ernesto could come out farther N.E? I know all the models & forecasts say no BUT..... Is there anything out there to suck him towards TX, OK, KS etc, if something different happens. I wish I could find a site that shows where the wind currents etc are moving. Seems like I had one once but cant find it again. Thanks for any info.


Unfortunately, until the the ridging patters change any weak storm is probably not going to be able to make it to the north. Any other storm that can bust through that ridge is going to be a lot more than just a drought buster.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
I just realized that my last name is the name of a fast food chain.


Hello Ronald McDonald.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
I just realized that my last name is the name of a fast food chain.


Burger king is ur last name?
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With Ernesto about to make landfall and the next wave at 30%, looking more like we are headed towards an early cluster of CV storms. We could have 2-4 more CV storms between now and the peak around September 10th if conditions remain ripe and Ernesto probably did not cause too much upwelling because of his weak state through most of the Caribbean.

The current steering pattern is not looking too favorable for the Caribbean and parts beyond at the moment.

Godspeed to the countries being impacted by Ernesto. Flooding and mudslides are always a problem in that region and Ernesto is so large that a widespread event is sure to follow in the coming days regardless of his weakening after landfall.
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Haikui
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Nah, they just get mad when a storm comes over and rains on them. No trees to hide under to keep from getting wet. :-(


I was thinking they like structure.
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Then it is wrong. It wouldn't be the first time either. A storm's intensity does generally correlate pretty well with it's intensity, which is what makes the Dvorak technique possible, but it's not perfect... Thankfully we have other tools that we can use as well, such as microwave imagery and ship reports that we can check the Dvorak technique with and adjust accordingly.


Right so if we can check it more often I e with bouys it would be more accurate. More accurate information can go to the models to give a more accurate track.
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Gro should be a expert with this equipment.


Nahh, too advanced. I would think Gro stayed with carving into stone tablets.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Time for my Bi- Annual comment & dumb question. (been Lurking since about 2002 or so:)
First, total agreement about too many other "shows" on TWC now. Guess I am weird, I go there to actually watch the weather....
Now Dumb question,(questions, many) Whats the chances of getting anything in the way of a tropical "drought buster" to come up thru TX, OK this year?? What conditions would it take to get one into the GM & headed this way?? What about the new one behind Ernesto, any better chances? Is there any way with the steering patterns etc that Ernesto could come out farther N.E? I know all the models & forecasts say no BUT..... Is there anything out there to suck him towards TX, OK, KS etc, if something different happens. I wish I could find a site that shows where the wind currents etc are moving. Seems like I had one once but cant find it again. Thanks for any info.
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They were wrong for Igor... He should have been a Cat 5...

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Quoting angiest:


Meet the teletype.





Let me see if I can describe how terribly slow the AP teletype system was. The teletype system ran at 50 baud, officially 66 words per minute, which averaged slightly over six characters per second at full speed. They way teletype machines were used by wire services, full speed was the only speed. If the same machine was connected to an inexperienced typist manually entering text, you'd hear the printer "hunt and peck" along with him, but in day-to-day operation, the system was fed pre-recorded segments of punched paper tape.

Each character was sent with a start bit, five data bits, and 1½ stop bits. But the "characters" included spaces, carriage return, line feed, an alarm bell, and two codes which selected "letters" or "figures". There were no lower-case letters, no italics, no underlines, no bold characters. All numbers and punctuation are in the "figures" group, so if you wanted to send "HELLO." on a line by itself, you would send [H] [E] [L] [L] [O] [figures] [period] [letters] [carriage return] [line feed]. This would take about 1.6 seconds. If you have DSL internet service, that is probably more time than it took your browser to load this entire page. (Well… the text portion anyway.) Even a 9600 baud modem, probably the slowest dial-up internet connection you've ever seen, is more than a hundred times as fast as the old teletype system.

From a site about the old Emergency Broadcast System.

In case someone, somewhere, still depends on one of these ancient devices for their news, weather alerts are still transmitted in all caps.


Gro should be a expert with this equipment.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
Do you think Ernesto's legacy will be that he moistened the Caribbean for the monsters to follow?


The Caribbean could dry up tomorrow as ernesto leaves its legacy will more than likely be the collapsing of the core and thunderstorms that it had
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:


What if the Dvorak is wrong? Then what?

They should but a network of bouys out there in the most common cv storm areas To determine winds

Along with dvorak

Then it is wrong. It wouldn't be the first time either. A storm's intensity does generally correlate pretty well with it's intensity, which is what makes the Dvorak technique possible, but it's not perfect... Thankfully we have other tools that we can use as well, such as microwave imagery and ship reports that we can check the Dvorak technique with and adjust accordingly.
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Quoting weatherh98:


I don't think fish get mad at that kind of thing

Yes but bouys will support the Dvorak numbers. We probably do not even have the funding though


Nah, they just get mad when a storm comes over and rains on them. No trees to hide under to keep from getting wet. :-(
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Quoting Dunkman:


Then the fish get mad?


I don't think fish get mad at that kind of thing
Quoting KoritheMan:


Then they're wrong. They've had to revise intensity more than once due to drifting buoys or ship reports. The Dvorak technique is not perfect.


Yes but bouys will support the Dvorak numbers. We probably do not even have the funding though
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Quoting weatherh98:


What if the Dvorak is wrong? Then what?

They should but a network of bouys out there in the most common cv storm areas To determine winds

Along with dvorak
Dvorak is good enough when most of the storms out there are days away from affecting anyone.
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Quoting angiest:


But for a storm on the high seas it should generally be good enough.


Correct.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Then they're wrong. They've had to revise intensity more than once due to drifting buoys or ship reports. The Dvorak technique is not perfect.


But for a storm on the high seas it should generally be good enough.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Do you think Ernesto's legacy will be that he moistened the Caribbean for the monsters to follow?
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Quoting Dunkman:


Then the fish get mad?


XD, good one.
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Quoting weatherh98:


What if the Dvorak is wrong? Then what?

They should but a network of bouts out there in the most common cv storm areas I determine winds

Along with dvorak


Then they're wrong. They've had to revise intensity more than once due to drifting buoys or ship reports. The Dvorak technique is not perfect.
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Quoting weatherh98:


What if the Dvorak is wrong? Then what?

They should but a network of bouts out there in the most common cv storm areas I determine winds


Then the fish get mad?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
(I know soon my comment will be removed )The reason why TWC is showing programming while Ernesto is nearing landfall because let's all just be honest here...they really don't give a damn unless it's impacting America..Sorry to say.That's just the attitude of the average american...Nothing personal.They barley mentioned the storm on Nightly news with Brian Williams or any other major news network for that matter....Now let me go before people get offensive...
You make a good point. Sad but true. You should not be banned for that.
On the otherhand, the juvenile making non sensical, non weather related (not to mention not even remotely witty) comments should certainly be banned.
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We are very close.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

It's hard to wishcast a landfalling storm and still look good. :P


True. That's why I do all my pre-hurricane chase wishcasting BEFORE the storm actually hits. Gotta know how to play your cards, you know. ;)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Recon is not available until 55W to begin with. Tropical cyclone intensity in the East Atlantic is based on Dvorak.


What if the Dvorak is wrong? Then what?

They should but a network of bouys out there in the most common cv storm areas To determine winds

Along with dvorak
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Quoting washingtonian115:
(I know soon my comment will be removed )The reason why TWC is showing programming while Ernesto is nearing landfall because let's all just be honest here...they really don't give a damn unless it's impacting America..Sorry to say.That's just the attitude of the average american...Nothing personal.They barley mentioned the storm on Nightly news with Brian Williams or any other major news network for that matter....Now let me go before people get offensive...


Haha. No, I think you are right. People are really tuned into the Olympics right now.

I do, however, think if the storm has large impacts here on out in Belize, etc. it will make some news - once the pics, images, come in.
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It's definitely all about timing - a few more miles further north and a strengthening storm would be feeling the weakness and headed in that direction. I've seen countless storms push up against 1012-1016 mb of high pressure like it was nothing. Dry air kept him in check and the weaker storm will follow the fairly weak easterly flow. B U T, a little time and a little distance this storm would have been considerably different.



Vaya con Dios, Mexico! ;)
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Quoting SubtropicalHi:


Do they need to start an invest process for Africa now? Like 90AFR?

Darn they won't be able to do recon till it's in the Atlantic. (I learned today they can't do recon over land)


Recon is not available until 55W to begin with. Tropical cyclone intensity in the East Atlantic is based on Dvorak.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Mano...Que pena que habiendo tanto cubano decente y bueno sigas denigrando a tu gente... No apruebo el racismo, pero asi es como algunos te ven aqui debido a tu comportamiento.......

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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