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 kmanislander:


Google earth shows the aircraft still on the ground. It's simply a timing thing and any data from the aircraft would be too late for upgrading the warnings etc..


The plane hasn't broadcast anything for 80 minutes so I guess there's still some hope that they sent out a message to make sure it was working then turned off observations for the flight to Ernesto. If they aren't in the air by now there's no reason to take off.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Where are they taking off from again?


Biloxi
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Afternoon everyone! Just got back from working at the NHC. I am going to be working on a blog post regarding Ernesto and the rest of the Atlantic basin, and I am going to include a little bit about my internship at NHC. If anyone has any general questions I would be happy to answer them about my experiences there.
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Quoting redwagon:

Of course they can fly over Mexico. HHs have Atlantic governing and fly-over authority. Which is good that they co-operate like this, given the mudslide death count over the years alone, not even mentioning wind and surge damage.
Ok, but I looked it up and they can't release dropsonde over land.
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my blog page now updated
with current storm floaters from
NOAA/NHC check it out

Link
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Quoting kmanislander:


Google earth shows the aircraft still on the ground. It's simply a timing thing and any data from the aircraft would be too late for upgrading the warnings etc..
Where are they taking off from again?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

They're not going to make it in time.
they are probably going to upgrade him at the end of the season to a cat 2
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Quoting kmanislander:


Am I ever. We got lucky with that ridge sitting in place to the N. It's a long way to Dec. 1st so let's hope El Nino kicks in and shuts the season down early to mid October when there is a secondary peak..

I know...seems we are in for playing the guessing game of the ridge & the trough...sound familiar? A certain ...September in our pasts...LOL
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The map looks pretty full this evening.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:


There's no reason why it would be.

There was data coming in and they where on runway getting ready for takeoff. This is a dangerous situation and they need a recon, for all we know this might be a Category 2 hurricane.


There isn't much people on the ground could do with landfall imminent to change their preparations so a mission now is just largely for scientific and historical purposes. Still, like everyone else, I would love to have a HH flying through as it makes landfall.
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283. Skyepony (Mod)
Excellent TRMM pass. Click pick for very large quicktime.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:


There's no reason why it would be.

There was data coming in and they where on runway getting ready for takeoff. This is a dangerous situation and they need a recon, for all we know this might be a Category 2 hurricane.


Google earth shows the aircraft still on the ground. It's simply a timing thing and any data from the aircraft would be too late for upgrading the warnings etc..
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22:02 UTC Viz


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Some decent accuracy came from the 3 day track and intensity forecast from Sunday morning.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:


There's no reason why it would be.

There was data coming in and they where on runway getting ready for takeoff. This is a dangerous situation and they need a recon, for all we know this might be a Category 2 hurricane.

They're not going to make it in time.
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It's always sad to see something this beautiful crash into a landmass...

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Quoting centex:
Can they fly over Mexico? Else we can't have a regular recon.

Of course they can fly over Mexico. HHs have Atlantic governing and fly-over authority. Which is good that they co-operate like this, given the mudslide death count over the years alone, not even mentioning wind and surge damage.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Landfall looks to be 5 to 6 hours away and with Ernesto apparently running due West now just on the 19 degree line more like 5. The aircraft is at least 3 hours from base to being on station and has not left yet so would get there when the eye was only a few miles offshore.

The mission may be scrubbed


There's no reason why it would be.

There was data coming in and they where on runway getting ready for takeoff. This is a dangerous situation and they need a recon, for all we know this might be a Category 2 hurricane.
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Thanks Angela, appreciate your response and info...
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Quoting scott39:
El-Nino will be too late too effect the peak of this hurricane season.


That is why I said the secondary peak in mid October, not the September peak.
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Things also heating up in the EPac. As Taz mentioned there's a new invest along with Gilma.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
we have 93E

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_ep932012.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201208072146
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, EP, E, , , , , 93, 2012, DB, O, 2012080718, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , EP932012
EP, 93, 2012080618, , BEST, 0, 88N, 974W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080700, , BEST, 0, 91N, 982W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080706, , BEST, 0, 94N, 989W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080712, , BEST, 0, 98N, 997W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080718, , BEST, 0, 102N, 1005W, 25, 1008, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1010, 150, 0, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
Yep, the Tropics sure are active world wide, 7 systems being monitored:

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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Recon's not gonna make it...



Landfall looks to be 5 to 6 hours away and with Ernesto apparently running due West now just on the 19 degree line more like 5. The aircraft is at least 3 hours from base to being on station and has not left yet so would get there when the eye was only a few miles offshore.

The mission may be scrubbed
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mode runs for 93E

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Quoting IceCoast:


Already has some very good spin to it. We'll see if 92L paves the way for better conditions.



Wow yes! Those are the ones I said the other day amaze me! Hitting the water spinning and looking so intimidating from the get-go...they could be saying 'Yes, you know I mean business!'
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Quoting angelafritz:


Yes, el Nino tends to increase wind shear, which is unfavorable for TC formation. The seasonal forecasts so far have been average-below average, and NOAA is coming out with their next update on Thursday.

We had some activity early maybe because we hadn't transitioned fully into an el Nino. As of yesterday, we still aren't in a full el Nino.

I'd caution that there's a lot of time left in the season.


FWIW, CSU and TSR came out with their August predictions and both are calling for 14 named this season.
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Looks like he's taking his left turn
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El-Nino will be too late too effect the peak of this hurricane season.
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we have 93E

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_ep932012.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201208072146
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, EP, E, , , , , 93, 2012, DB, O, 2012080718, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , EP932012
EP, 93, 2012080618, , BEST, 0, 88N, 974W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080700, , BEST, 0, 91N, 982W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080706, , BEST, 0, 94N, 989W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080712, , BEST, 0, 98N, 997W, 25, 1009, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
EP, 93, 2012080718, , BEST, 0, 102N, 1005W, 25, 1008, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1010, 150, 0, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
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Can they fly over Mexico? Else we can't have a regular recon.
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261. ATCr
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon scheduled for a 7:30p.m EDT entry. Got about 90 minutes or so to go.

Given the current presentation on satellite imagery, we're probably looking at an 85kt+ cyclone.



The a/c has not left BIX yet.
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Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)

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Quoting weatherh98:


the trough is "undigging" and the sonoran ridge is expanding

And Leon is getting laaaaaarrrger!
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If we don't find out the recon has taken off soon, it will not get a chance to sample Ernesto. Unless they have taken off and simply aren't broadcasting any data.
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Station 42056

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I think he is slowing down unfortunately to make the turn to the W.
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Hi Gang,
We're sitting here at 5:15 Central time in our place in Puerto Morelos (about 25 km north of Playa del Carmen) and it is lovely. Bands of lashing rain and refreshing wind. The tide has covered our very wide beach nearly up to the seawall and brought in some large tree trucks and flotsam.
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254. 900MB
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
GFS continues to indicate this will become a tropical storm as soon as it emerges off the West Coast of Africa.



It looks like a landcane already!
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Angela, it's being said that El Nino years will inhibit TS/Hur formation....Is that correct....

If true, then why do we have such a potential active Hurricane season, at least looks like CV season?


Yes, el Nino tends to increase wind shear, which is unfavorable for TC formation. The seasonal forecasts so far have been average-below average, and NOAA is coming out with their next update on Thursday.

We had some activity early maybe because we hadn't transitioned fully into an el Nino. As of yesterday, we still aren't in a full el Nino.

I'd caution that there's a lot of time left in the season.
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Like Alex, Ernesto is exploding 100 miles away from landfall. Crazy. This is a 100 mph hurricane right now IMO. I still think Ernesto will be even stronger on his second landfall in Mexico.



* well he looks to be moving due west now too. That should help keep his second landfall strength at a minimum.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Recon's not gonna make it...


Nope...
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i think Taz would make a great admin
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this storm could not be at lest a cat 3 storm but the recon better hurry up has they are really runing out of time
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Quoting bayoubug:
looks to be moving west....
Ive been looking for that and he looks to be.
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Recon's not gonna make it...

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Quoting Patrap:


BULLSEYE
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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