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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Meh, better than nothing. Maybe the other frequencies will be easer to see once they update.

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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting allancalderini:
94L may be Gordon after all.

There is no 94L, you mean 92L?
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Almost there
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Quoting JLPR2:


Awesome, I hadn't realized the floaters now had a GIF option.

Yeah. I can't get over how awesome the GIFs are.

(3000th post :D )
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94L may be Gordon after all.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:



Is it moving SW?
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535. JLPR2
Quoting Ameister12:
Very near landfall.


Awesome, I hadn't realized the floaters now had a GIF option.
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533. LBAR
Quoting GTcooliebai:
You might have to change handles to GFS :P


Never. I prefer my right-bias just fine. :-p
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Short term motion (last 45 minutes) is now West, not WSW, if you look closely on radar

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Quoting mexichick:
I live approximately 66 miles south of Cancun on the Mayan Riviera. We are currently experiencing periods of hard rain, then calm, then wind gusts. Ernesto is expected to go ashore south of us within an hour, according to the Weather Channel. I am not happy with the Weather Channel because it seems to believe that no people live where the hurricane will come ashore. The people who live in that area would be surprised to know that people think they aren't there. Even on this blog I read that when Hurricane Dean came ashore, the area was unpopulated. The 150,000 people of Chetemal and the Mayans of the jungle would be so surprised to know that. Last night, Weather Channel told us that if one was in Cozumel, one would be safe from the hurricane but not if one were in Cancun. Cozumel is much farther south than Cancun. Made no sense. Further, they told us that mud slides were somewhat mitigated by the topography in our area. My husband looked at me and said how does mud slide on a pancake. I would suggest they read up on the geography of the area before making such pronouncements.


I hope the Costa Maya cruise port survives. Brings in a fair amount of $$$ to the region. The port has a problem with waves/swells on a good day.
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530. Skyepony (Mod)
MIMIC of Ernesto about to make landfall around Costa Maya.
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Quoting allancalderini:
85 and a pressure of 980.
Oh I was close I had 979 mb. at landfall.
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Very near landfall.
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Quoting ConsejoBelize:
Consejo, Belize is the northern most village in Belize, just across the Rio Hondo from Chetumal.

Current wind is NW @ 6kts
Pressure 1005 mb and falling
Overcast, not currently raining, only 0.96 inchs today so far.

Webcam

I'll keep the lights on as long as the power holds.


6 knot winds & less than an inch of rain?
Say, Ernesto is a wimp, huh?
(Heh, heh,...riiiight - not.)
-- Thanks for the info & hope it goes well there!!!
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Quoting LBAR:
The GFS model has been on fire this year!
You might have to change handles to GFS :P
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The land friction could possibly open up an eye for a bit, if it doesn't pop out before then.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Alex made landfall with 65 mph winds and survived the trek while holding tropical storm intensity. Ernesto will survive as a tropical storm as well.



Good data, but that graph will explain my point. Alex had a north bias to his west track once he crossed the terrain. This storm might be developing a south bias to his west track. If it is then it will be plowing into an ever increasing terrain whereas Alex was not, he simply brushed up against the northeast ridges and bounced off to the northwest. For Ernesto to better maintain his structure he will need to gain more latitude, because as you go south you increase the amount of land you have to cross to get to the Bay of Campeche and that land also gains in elevation as you travel south. So he may survive it, but he will be a stronger storm the more north you go on the Yucatan as he re-emerges. It's just the nature of the geography of the peninsula.
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Quoting Gino99:
Since Ernesto is moving WSW now, will he still reach the Bay Of Campeche?


He is technically still moving West...but he is taking a last minute jog to the WSW/SW.

I am not entirely sure that he will make it to the Bay of Campeche now.
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He will take the southern edge of this cone if he stays this current trend south.
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Eye is trying to clear out. You can see where it is on the satellite image, but cloud tops are still -70C over the eye. Will be interesting to see how much more it can clear out before landfall.

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This doesn't have the inner presence to start a trochoidal oscillation.

My top estimate for this would be about 110 mph.
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Since Ernesto is moving WSW now, will he still reach the Bay Of Campeche?
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rain for S FL
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Consejo, Belize is the northern most village in Belize, just across the Rio Hondo from Chetumal.

Current wind is NW @ 6kts
Pressure 1005 mb and falling
Overcast, not currently raining, only 0.96 inchs today so far.

Webcam

I'll keep the lights on as long as the power holds.
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Quoting Thrawst:
Trochoidal oscillations?

Not sure if it's strong enough for that.
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512. LBAR
The GFS model has been on fire this year!
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T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
NEARING LANDFALL


last of the vis stills on core of storm
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Quoting ILwthrfan:
Ernesto better gain some latitude or he will be forced to deal with some pretty big hills.



They prefer to take the easy route, so might just pinwheel over the top of that hilly region & slip over it or the south flank take the hit & hurdle it across the northern Yucatan, where reintensification may shift it a bit.
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
Looks like Hurricane ernesto is going to hit chetumal real hard if the WSW motion continues , alot of storm surge/water being pilled up into chetumal bay

If the storm passes along the north end of the bay as expected, the wind will push most of the water east and south effectively emptying the bay. Since average depth is only about 7-9 feet, it doesn't take much for that to happen.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
We really need to watch for rapid intensification in the Bay of Campeche, especially since a majority of the global models show it attaining its peak down there and TCHP and SST depth is high enough to support it.


Aye, all of them are showing Ernesto actually being stronger than it is now down there. Interesting situation there.
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I see we have some orange in the central Atlantic
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92L up to 30%
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Trochoidal oscillations?
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Quoting ILwthrfan:
Ernesto better gain some latitude or he will be forced to deal with some pretty big hills.


Alex made landfall with 65 mph winds and survived the trek while holding tropical storm intensity. Ernesto will survive as a tropical storm as well.

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501. SLU
000
ABNT20 KNHC 072358
TWOAT

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT TUE AUG 7 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON JUST-UPGRADED
HURRICANE ERNESTO...LOCATED ABOUT 65 MILES EAST OF CHETUMAL
MEXICO.

A SURFACE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE
LOCATED ABOUT 600 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
HAS CONTINUED TO BECOME BETTER DEFINED. ALTHOUGH SHOWER ACTIVITY IS
CURRENTLY DISORGANIZED...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS COULD BECOME MORE
CONDUCIVE FOR GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.
THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT
10 TO 15 MPH.

SHOWER ACTIVITY HAS WEAKENED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE REMNANT LOW
OF FLORENCE LOCATED ABOUT 750 MILES EAST OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD
ISLANDS. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE FOR
REDEVELOPMENT...AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AGAIN DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 20 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART/CANGIALOSI
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT TUE AUG 7 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON JUST-UPGRADED
HURRICANE ERNESTO...LOCATED ABOUT 65 MILES EAST OF CHETUMAL
MEXICO.

A SURFACE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE
LOCATED ABOUT 600 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
HAS CONTINUED TO BECOME BETTER DEFINED. ALTHOUGH SHOWER ACTIVITY IS
CURRENTLY DISORGANIZED...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS COULD BECOME MORE
CONDUCIVE FOR GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.
THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT
10 TO 15 MPH.

SHOWER ACTIVITY HAS WEAKENED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE REMNANT LOW
OF FLORENCE LOCATED ABOUT 750 MILES EAST OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD
ISLANDS. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE FOR
REDEVELOPMENT...AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AGAIN DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 20 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART/CANGIALOSI
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Code Orange for 92L
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Ernesto better gain some latitude or he will be forced to deal with some pretty big hills.

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Quoting airmet3:


I would not be surprised if the mission was cancelled. The center is close to the coast and the low level investigations do not fly over land due to the turbulence created because of friction. It is much more smooth over the water.


Duh, thanks for reminding me the HHs are skeered of friction! Good thing, too, because penetrating an eyewall could be risky to the aircraft and airmen.
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East Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook


000
ABPZ20 KNHC 072357
TWOEP

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 PM PDT TUE AUG 7 2012

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON
TROPICAL STORM GILMA...LOCATED ABOUT 600 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF
THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA.

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE
LOCATED ABOUT 450 MILES SOUTH OF ACAPULCO MEXICO HAVE BECOME MUCH
BETTER ORGANIZED DURING THE LAST SEVERAL HOURS. ADDITIONAL
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE AND IT COULD BECOME A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THIS SYSTEM HAS
A MEDIUM CHANCE...40 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AS IT
DRIFTS WESTWARD DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

&&

PUBLIC ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL STORM GILMA ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTPZ32 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCPEP2.
FORECAST/ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL STORM GILMA ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTPZ22 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCMEP2.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI/STEWART
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looks like CHETUMAL is the bulls eye according to doppler radar and the NHC
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Uhh...why wouldn't he?
Aliens my abduct him
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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