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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194. JLPR2
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Time for another exciting round of Where Will Gordon Go?



Oh snap, the CV islands folks getting a direct hit, that's not common.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:
this thing has gotten massive.


Beautiful pinwheel image though
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It looks like Ernesto is slowing down a little.
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Looks like the eye is headed for the biospheric reserve.
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I love how Angela interacts with the blog.Very nice young lady :).Well I'm out.
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Quoting angelafritz:


Exactly.



can you make me a moderator
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Time for another exciting round of Where Will Gordon Go?

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this thing has gotten massive.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Nah Taz, you'd terrorize people :P

But Angela or someone should really consider appointing someone as a moderator as the admins really can't be expected to be on all the time. The stuff that takes place on here is so bad sometimes that we flee to our own blogs.


I concur.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

e.i. Karl 2010


Exactly.
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Quoting LostTomorrows:
I really wish there'd be an intermediate update from the NHC right now... Ernesto's looking better than a low-end category 1. Much better. Where can I go to keep track of Ernesto's strength?

When recon gets to Ernesto, someone here will be posting everything they report.
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Quoting angelafritz:


I tend to agree with NHC and the models on this one. I think it will probably regain hurricane intensity, but only as a category 1. The kicker is it depends on how far north it gets before bending back to the south (will it have more time or less time over water), and of course, we've seen some unpredictable RI events in the BoC in the past few years.

e.i. Karl 2010
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Quoting angiest:


Erase? I would put all the storms for a season on one. Of course, this was before the active period began in '95, which was the same year I first got internet.


It got complicated when they intersected though LOL
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Hurricane 05L

UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm

Current Intensity Analysis



UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 07 AUG 2012 Time : 204500 UTC
Lat : 17:43:37 N Lon : 86:11:51 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.9 / 989.2mb/ 63.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.7 3.4 2.7

Center Temp : -16.8C Cloud Region Temp : -58.6C

Scene Type : CURVED BAND with 0.42 ARC in LT GRAY
Maximum CURVED BAND with 0.64 ARC in LT GRAY
at Lat: 17:43:11 N Lon: 86:23:23 W

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.5T/hour
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 65km
- Environmental MSLP : 1012mb

Satellite Viewing Angle : 24.4 degrees




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Very compact core.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

It would not surprise me one bit if this were a category 2 hurricane this very moment.


I agree with you. Ernesto has become very well-organized.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Not to mention doing the plots on a newspaper pull out map using a pencil and ruler to be able to erase each system once it was gone so as to save the map for the entire season LOL


Erase? I would put all the storms for a season on one. Of course, this was before the active period began in '95, which was the same year I first got internet.
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Did recon actually take off? Haven't seen any data.
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Quoting Ameister12:

Gordon... Gordon Ramsay...

I have a bad feeling about out next tropical cyclone.


It would be the most vulgar of storms.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
GFS continues to indicate this will become a tropical storm as soon as it emerges off the West Coast of Africa.



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

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I really wish there'd be an intermediate update from the NHC right now... Ernesto's looking better than a low-end category 1. Much better. Where can I go to keep track of Ernesto's strength?
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Angela, right now, a whole lot of nothing. A little drizzle and that is it. People don't seem too concerned about the storm and no panic shopping that I have seen (I am right around the corner from WalMart). The government of Quintana Roo has put us in Alerta Naranja for now.
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Quoting scott39:
I dont buy the sharp left turn in the track...yet!

I think some models are ready to run again in about one hour.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

It would not surprise me one bit if this were a category 2 hurricane this very moment.


That is my expectation when the HH gets there
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168. skook
I must say, I do enjoy when Angela makes an entry, she is almost always active in the comment section, which is much appreciated.
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Ernesto has a really nice overall convective pattern:

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Quoting Patrap:
Tenacious "E"



he's a two now time is almost up till the other side
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Ernesto is probably tapping into the fringes of that very high TCHP. It's a good thing it did not traverse that into the GOM. This is a dangerous spot for the rest of the season.



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Quoting angelafritz:


I tend to agree with NHC and the models on this one. I think it will probably regain hurricane intensity, but only as a category 1. The kicker is it depends on how far north it gets before bending back to the south (will it have more time or less time over water), and of course, we've seen some unpredictable RI events in the BoC in the past few years.

Thanks Angela
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Nah Taz, you'd terrorize people :P

But Angela or someone should really consider appointing someone as a moderator as the admins really can't be expected to be on all the time. The stuff that takes place on here is so bad sometimes that we flee to our own blogs.



would i evere do that? am a good little boy
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Quoting Ameister12:

*Shrug* oh well. It's a good thing she stopped us before things turned ugly.

Well, back to the tropics..

Things never turn ugly?
The fact is that some of you always insist that you are right.
Ugliness is in the eyes of the reader!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
GFS continues to indicate this will become a tropical storm as soon as it emerges off the West Coast of Africa.



Very vigorous looking wave axis. Develops this system as soon as it hits the water, which is rare.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
19.06N/86.36W

Rapid Intensification is happening according to this.

And does C2 mean what i think it does?
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Quoting floridaboy14:
future gordon could be the ONE

Gordon... Gordon Ramsay...

I have a bad feeling about out next tropical cyclone.
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Quoting PdCMexico:
That webcam is looking northeast. I am about 15 blocks away from it.


Great, thanks! How's it going down there?
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@redwagon -- To add to what others are saying, the Hurricane Hunter missions also provide us with additional data which can be used to help improve hurricane predictions throughout the Atlantic, including the United States.
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Quoting Tazmanian:


Angela can you make me a admin


Nah Taz, you'd terrorize people :P

But Angela or someone should really consider appointing someone as a moderator as the admins really can't be expected to be on all the time. The stuff that takes place on here is so bad sometimes that we flee to our own blogs.
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Quoting Doppler22:

How strong do u predict itll get in the BOC??? I know the nhc is saying Cat 1 but whats ur opinion?


I tend to agree with NHC and the models on this one. I think it will probably regain hurricane intensity, but only as a category 1. The kicker is it depends on how far north it gets before bending back to the south (will it have more time or less time over water), and of course, we've seen some unpredictable RI events in the BoC in the past few years.
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Quoting sar2401:


You've been asked this before - why do you keep doing the dot thing? It's really annoying and makes your posts hard to read.
sar..You must be kidding....Just skip over his posts if you find it annoying.Myself, I could care less
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Quoting kmanislander:
Really ramping up now.

Hot towers really going off in the CDO.
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That webcam is looking northeast. I am about 15 blocks away from it.
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GFS continues to indicate this will become a tropical storm as soon as it emerges off the West Coast of Africa.

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Quoting kmanislander:
Really ramping up now.


It would not surprise me one bit if this were a category 2 hurricane this very moment.
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I dont buy the sharp left turn in the track...yet!
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Quoting islander101010:
not.the.farmers.storm


You've been asked this before - why do you keep doing the dot thing? It's really annoying and makes your posts hard to read.
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Tenacious "E"



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144. 900MB
Quoting Patrap:


It's the incredible hulk all of a sudden with that green, could be cat 2 or pretty close.

It is coming in further North than they thought 24 hours ago. Any guesses how long it takes to cross the Yucatan? I'm guessing 18 hours, but just a guess.
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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