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.

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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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Quoting katadman:
Thanks, Angela & Dean07.

No problem...
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Quoting angelafritz:


Surge up to 4 feet. It looks like Chetumal is fairly protected, I'm more concerned about the bays south of Cozumel, and maybe even Belize City.
Thank You, I was thinking the same thing and the coastline north of where the center makes landfall would have the highest storm surge because of the onshore winds caused by the counter-clockwise rotation of the storm.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Very lucky indeed.

My believe is still that the streak of no major hurricane landfalls on the USA ends this season.
future gordon could be the ONE
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RI is happening right now! BOMB!!
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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?
Nothing like putting Angela on the spot
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Hi Angela. This cam is good to post from Playa del Carmen near Cozumel.



Yes we have some great webcams down there. I didn't post that one because I think it's looking northeast, correct? Best to keep an eye on all of them. They're on Wundermap so it's easy to pick the best cam.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

lol.
I like how when Angela got involved, you completely dropped the arguement against taz...

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

Back to the tropics...
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hmmm is the recon still on the way?
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Quoting sar2401:


Taz, that's a really scary thought. :)



LOL,
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Really ramping up now.

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Quoting Tazmanian:


Angela can you make me a admin


Taz, that's a really scary thought. :)
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Quoting angelafritz:


There is some northwest movement, but the big picture is generally west toward the Bay of Campeche. All trusted models are showing a slight west-northwest track until it reaches the bay.

How strong do u predict itll get in the BOC??? I know the nhc is saying Cat 1 but whats ur opinion?
Oh and btw Hi :p
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Thanks, Angela & Dean07.
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Quoting angelafritz:


The NHC is the "governing" organization for Atlantic tropical activity. This is very necessary, and these trips help save lives in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.


For which all of us down here remain grateful!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
19.06N/86.36W


CAT 2 likely IMO
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thanks for the update miss Angela
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Hi Angela. This cam is good to post from Playa del Carmen near Cozumel.

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ernesto has a beautiful compact CDO. Considering landfall is still a good 5 hours away, I believe we'll probably see a pinhole eye briefly make an appearance before a weakening trend begins to take place.

Fortunately for us, Ernesto's intensification didn't take place a few degrees further east, or else we'd be in a much different position with a cyclone moving northwestward into the GOM.

Very lucky indeed.

My believe is still that the streak of no major hurricane landfalls on the USA ends this season.
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Another 6 to 12 hours over water, this may have been a major hurricane..I do not want to think what would of happened if it was a couple days and headed north.
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T.C.W.
05L/H/E/C2
MARK
R.I.FLAG ON
19.06N/86.36W
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The Bay to the South of Punta Allen is oriented NE to SW and that will be the onshore wind flow as well. Not a good scenario as the water will pile up big time with only inland to go.
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Uh oh
I see Jasoncoolman2098 is on tropics chat
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Quoting redwagon:

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?
not.the.farmers.storm
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Quoting redwagon:

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?

The Recon is the most accurate way of determining the strength and gathering data from a tropical cyclone, so they are very necessary even if a storm isn't threatening the U.S.
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Quoting floridaboy14:
i think the US has some forefield that protects us from hurricanes lol
If you are trying to say "Forcefield" check out the years 1992, 2004, and 2005
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Quoting angelafritz:


We've come a long way, huh? :)


yes we have
and its a good thing
info is vital to get out
to those in harms way
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Quoting katadman:
Angela, good to see you on this afternoon. I just dropped by the house for a few minutes to catch up on Ernesto. Of course, I'm already seeing the post stating that there is a northwest movement. Is that true or wishful thinking on the part of a few in here? TIA


There is some northwest movement, but the big picture is generally west toward the Bay of Campeche. All trusted models are showing a slight west-northwest track until it reaches the bay.
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Quoting katadman:
Angela, good to see you on this afternoon. I just dropped by the house for a few minutes to catch up on Ernesto. Of course, I'm already seeing the post stating that there is a northwest movement. Is that true or wishful thinking on the part of a few in here? TIA

Ernesto is bending back toward the west, It's current heading is West-Northwest, though Ernesto might give Cozumel a scare, it looks like there might be a little extra time to strengthen before landfall tonight, and then another landfall Between Tampico, and Veracruz in about 36 - 48 Hours.
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Ernesto looking great. Cat 2 before landfall seems plausible.
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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


They used to hand out the 'hurricane maps' free at gas stations. You'd hang it up in your house to plot the course from day to day. And yeah, try not to press too hard so you could erase it for the next one. No one thought to get more than one hurricane map, that would jinx you.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ernesto has a beautiful compact CDO. Considering landfall is still a good 5+ hours away, I believe we'll probably see a pinhole eye briefly make an appearance before a weakening trend begins to take place.

Fortunately for us, Ernesto's intensification didn't take place a few degrees further east, or else we'd be in a much different position with a cyclone moving northwestward into the GOM.
i think the US has some forefield that protects us from hurricanes lol
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good thing the recon is on the way
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I still do the old paper and pencil plotting on one map for the whole season thing....for old times sake. I have all the years since 1975, admittedly some years during and after university are not quite complete:)
.
.
Let's can it on the Olympics talk as well. My congrats to all the athletes with kudos to Grenada, Jamaica. Still would have been more fun(for me) to not know the result before the race.
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Quoting redwagon:

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?


The NHC is the "governing" organization for Atlantic tropical activity. This is very necessary, and these trips help save lives in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.
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Quoting angelafritz:


We've come a long way, huh? :)


An amazingly long way. Who would have thought we be reading and discussing weather on a blog on a home COMPUTER back then?! *G*
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Angela, good to see you on this afternoon. I just dropped by the house for a few minutes to catch up on Ernesto. Of course, I'm already seeing the post stating that there is a northwest movement. Is that true or wishful thinking on the part of a few in here? TIA
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Quoting islander101010:
american.vrs.euro...cars.at.least.more.bang.for.y ou r.buck


Hey wait a minute, you have a space in there! So your space bar does work?
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Quoting Ameister12:

Sorry bout that. Totally understand it's not the time for them.

lol.
I like how when Angela got involved, you completely dropped the arguement against taz...
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Ernesto has a beautiful compact CDO. Considering landfall is still a good 5+ hours away, I believe we'll probably see a pinhole eye briefly make an appearance before a weakening trend begins to take place.

Fortunately for us, Ernesto's intensification didn't take place a few degrees further east, or else we'd be in a much different position with a cyclone moving northwestward into the GOM.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Hi, Angela what is the storm surge looking like for the Yucatan coastline?


Surge up to 4 feet. It looks like Chetumal is fairly protected, I'm more concerned about the bays south of Cozumel, and maybe even Belize City.
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american.vrs.euro...cars.at.least.more.bang.for.you r.buck
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Quoting Ameister12:

Sorry bout that. Totally understand it's not the time for them.

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?
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


GFS has won on all of the storms this year... It had Beryl first, Debby first (and then track), and then nailed pretty much the entire lifetime of Ernesto, including when it opened into a wave.

Im talking about the storms that had FULL tropical origin...
Storms like Alberto, Beryl, and Chris don't exactly count...

Debby, and Ernesto were both nailed down by the GFS, so I give it credit for that...
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Kman my older bros. used to burn my tracking maps.


Thankfully I was the older brother !
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i take it has a no lol
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Quoting angelafritz:


Agreed, let's reign it in, guys.

Sorry bout that. Totally understand it's not the time for them.
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Quoting angelafritz:


We've come a long way, huh? :)
Hi, Angela what is the storm surge looking like for the Yucatan coastline?
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Kman my older bros. used to burn my tracking maps.
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Comment 81. Rated -5
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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