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 ILwthrfan:


Looking at this radar imagery - Ernesto is dipping WSW/SW. If he keeps this up he will move over a much more mountainous region of the Yucatan.

The story of Ernesto may end sooner rather than later.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Very likely Ernesto is a 90-100mph hurricane, He looks impressive
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Raining pretty steady now. The government of Q. Roo has issued a red alert from Chetumal up to Tulum (and cut off alcohol sales). We are still in orange and I expect we will stay that way.
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Quoting atmosweather:


You missed the point there...

I think everybody's missing the point here. There was no mission over Ernesto at landfall because it's not allowed. That's why we have so little data on Ernesto analogs.

Flyover once he emerges into the BOC? That's allowed, and wheels WILL go up. Then they can try to reverse-engineer what happened at landfall.
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.
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The blog just got a shout-out on TWC! Jeff Masters was just on there.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Jeff Masters is on TWC.
And a plug for this blog.
We should see 1 or 2 new members:)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Jeff Masters is on TWC.
We bout to have more members
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Quoting 954FtLCane:
The eye looks to be dipping just south of due west in the last few frames.



I'm noticing that too. Just like Alex of 2010....
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Quoting spathy:


It looks to me that the models did fairly well.(Track wise)
I havent looked in the past two days,but did some of them predict this last minute strengthening?
I that is why I left that out, the models still aren't quite caught up yet when it comes to intensity. But a lot of us who have been through storms know the potential exists for rapid intensification. So the human aspect of intensity forecasts seems more knowledgeable than the computer models. I'm certainly not surprised at the strengthening I'm seeing with Ernesto.
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Wobble...it'll still make the boc imo!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
NEARING LANDFALL



thats not a pinhole eye is it
No shot. lol
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Jeff Masters is on TWC.
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Quoting MTWX:
Looking at this loop the storm almost looks like it is now trying to head SW... Link

Maybe the Mexico/Belize border isn't out of the question....


Definitely looks that way. Seems like it wants to follow the ULL. It will dissipate much more quickly if it keeps up that direction - may not even reach the BOC.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i noted its 7pm in the E and stil no new update from the nhc the 7pm update sould be about now but its 25 ms late



NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...700 PM CDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.

yes you are right it would have come out now IF it showed 700 PM EDT but it shows CDT so its not late
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Quoting redwagon:

Back in 101 I said 'I guess the only question left to ask is why are the HH going into Mexico for a Mexican storm that is not forecast to impact the US?'

Because we are NOT granted flyover rights. Many folks noted I was hard-hearted for asking this question. It was sad sarcasm.
not quite sure what u mean by this; will go back 2 read 101, since I started @ 201.....
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427. MTWX
Looking at this loop the storm almost looks like it is now trying to head SW... Link

Maybe the Mexico/Belize border isn't out of the question....
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Quoting GBguy88:


Actually, Belize radar shows that the eyewall is still offshore and should be for a couple of hours. Furthermore, it's already north of Belize and will make landfall in Mexico, bringing the worst effects to that area.


Currently very calm in northern Belize (Chetumal Bay). Had a squall come through dropped maybe 1/4" of rain. Some thunder in the distance. Southern end of the country is off hurricane watch now on TS watch and restrictions have been lifted (stores, curfew, etc.) This is Mexico's problem. Seriously doubt the wind field is large enough to effect us very much.
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Quoting Maineweatherguy20023:


They have flown into high end CAT 5 storms. an intensifying CAT 1 is a peice of cake for them.


You missed the point there...
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Quoting atmosweather:
Still no data from the HH aircraft and its almost 2330z..I'm guessing they experienced problems on the ground and never took off. Such a shame in these situations. But infinitely more important to protect lives of the pilots.
It's very much understandable, technically difficulties happens, besides the people in the path of this storm should know better to always prepare for 1 category higher, that goes for the rest of us in here.
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Quoting atmosweather:
Still no data from the HH aircraft and its almost 2330z..I'm guessing they experienced problems on the ground and never took off. Such a shame in these situations. But infinitely more important to protect lives of the pilots.


They have flown into high end CAT 5 storms. an intensifying CAT 1 is a peice of cake for them.
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T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
NEARING LANDFALL



thats not a pinhole eye is it
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Looks like the majority of civilians in the Yucatan will only experience TS force winds. The hurricane force winds will only impact a small area.

Nothing the Yucatan can't handle. They have been through this many times.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


No need to alarm people. It is NOT going to hit the US


I've seen storms turn circles & then go somewhere they never expected them to. Forecasting is better now...but not perfect. People should remember that. Sometimes the PC police affect weather-casting, too, as it is very expensive to gear up for possible bad weather. Yet, it is more expensive to not do so...if the forecast is wrong on a storm like this could turn out to be.

People shouldn't be terrorized, but should respect it like a rattlesnake -- simple wisdom.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i noted its 7pm in the E and stil no new update from the nhc the 7pm update sould be about now but its 25 ms late



NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...700 PM CDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.
it will be out at 8pm est, not 7pm est
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Still no data from the HH aircraft and its almost 2330z..I'm guessing they experienced problems on the ground and never took off. Such a shame in these situations. But infinitely more important to protect lives of the pilots.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i noted its 7pm in the E and stil no new update from the nhc the 7pm update sould be about now but its 25 ms late



NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...700 PM CDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.
.

That is 7:00 CDT. Which is 8:00 EDT.
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The eye looks to be dipping just south of due west in the last few frames.

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Look how favorable the MDR will be in the next couple of weeks in the new Hazards update.



Link
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Quoting spathy:
Hi Wunderground .
Does anyone have a windfield graph of Ernesto handy?
Or how far out do the 80+ mph winds go out from the center?


Here ya go.
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The GFS is pretty good out 7 days just check Ernesto, the track was pretty much on cue.
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Quoting spathy:
Overall Ernesto looks big but something tells me his wind field is small like Charley.


I would have to agree. His inner core has always been small...might explain why the eye hasn't popped out yet.
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i noted its 7pm in the E and stil no new update from the nhc the 7pm update sould be about now but its 25 ms late



NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...700 PM CDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
054L/H/E/C2
ON THE COAST


i think i see the devil

lol


Hahaha!
Believe me, this Ernesto..does have "horns".
People were poo-pooing it a day ago, you know.
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Quoting hurricanehunter5753:

anyone standing outside in this deserves it!!
u in ur house w/ a 'sonde thru ur head, somehow does not fit the idea of HHer missions....
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Quoting WalkingInTheSun:


IT's...NOT...OVER...YET.
Ernesto just keeps plowing NW mostly, & along the upper edge (or past it at times) of teh forecast cones. LBAR, the most reliable model on this type of storm projected it to continue up toward Brownsville & hook upward, parallel w/the TX coast.

NOGAPS is now projecting for Brownsville, too.
Not sure why forcasters are ignoring these. Any ideas? Is it just because of the other models clinging in a group? That group cluster, btw, is slowly edging further north & flattening out to take it all due west, instead of that SW arc downward after the Yucatan.

It is becoming a very dangerous storm, and when it pops out into H2O again, if it hits the NW corner of the Yucatan, that could mean tracking right into that mass of hot water in the western gulf. Texas needs to taking this storm more seriously. IF....it decides to head northward, if could really explode in a hurry.


No need to alarm people. It is NOT going to hit the US
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Just posted my first full length blog entry stating my predictions with Ernesto and the rest of the Atlantic Basin. Please check it out and critique/comment. I appreciate it!

Link
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
Ernesto looks good. He's big. He would have taken up the whole Gulf if he had gotten up there.

Whew! US was lucky.


IT's...NOT...OVER...YET.
Ernesto just keeps plowing NW mostly, & along the upper edge (or past it at times) of the forecast cones. LBAR, the most reliable model on this type of storm projected it to continue up toward Brownsville & hook upward, parallel w/the TX coast.

NOGAPS is now projecting for Brownsville, too.
Not sure why forcasters are ignoring these. Any ideas? Is it just because of the other models clinging in a group? That group cluster, btw, is slowly edging further north & flattening out to take it all due west, instead of that SW arc downward after the Yucatan.

It is becoming a very dangerous storm, and when it pops out into H2O again, if it hits the NW corner of the Yucatan, that could mean tracking right into that mass of hot water in the western gulf. Texas needs to taking this storm more seriously. IF....it decides to head northward, if could really explode in a hurry.
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Center fix (if it's still going to happen) is scheduled for 0z.
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054L/H/E/C2
ON THE COAST


i think i see the devil

lol
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399. JLPR2
Quoting MississippiWx:


Not really considering there are not 4 true tropical cyclones. The GFS is just showing that there will most likely be tropical troubles in the near future. We've seen this numerous times. Sometimes, you get all four to develop. Most of the time, you don't.


Models after 120hrs are a what if thing, that's my thinking. :)
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Can someone post the link for the latest GFS that shows 4 storms? Please. Thanks
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Quoting cg2916:


Which is the microwave imagery?


85GHz
H
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
anyone have any observations near northern Belize would be intresting to see the wind speeds , the worst of the storm is starting to come ashore


Actually, Belize radar shows that the eyewall is still offshore and should be for a couple of hours. Furthermore, it's already north of Belize and will make landfall in Mexico, bringing the worst effects to that area.
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Quoting redwagon:


Do you suppose they were somehow unexplicably denied flyover rights for the mission? That would be odd, and probably a first-time occurrence. Shame, lots of data could have been gathered for a storm that has only three known analogs, and none with HH analysis.
Nah... the no-fly thing is more abt not killing pple, imo....
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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