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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Comment 81. Rated -5
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Quoting sunlinepr:
92L status



Looks like it's opening up into just a strong wave.
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Quoting angelafritz:


Agreed, let's reign it in, guys.


Angela can you make me a admin
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

the GFS...

This year - GFS 2 : EURO 0


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.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Not to mention doing the plots from 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


I love hand-drawn analysis, and I love conserving resources.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

the GFS...

This year - GFS 2 : EURO 0


Those tweaks they did to the GFS this year I posted a few days ago have been paying off so far. I can't remember the link at the moment.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

lol look at Ernesto's CDO...
It has the Cyclone Icon on it.


Where do you think that Icon came from in the first place LOL
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92L status

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Quoting angelafritz:


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


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
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Quoting Tazmanian:
whats with all the off topic photos this is not the blog for them


Agreed, let's reign it in, guys.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



this photo you posted is off topic





there is a time and place where you can post off topic photos and there is times there is not a place too post them and the admins and warn you guys too keep them off topic photos too your own blog this is a weather olny blog

People (including me) post animated gifs to express their feelings in a humorous way on this blog all the time and they don't get banned. I see no reason why the admins would ban me.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Ernesto is intensifying just prior to landfall. May well come ashore as CAT 2


lol look at Ernesto's CDO...
It has the Cyclone Icon on it.
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Angela I knew you wouldn't finish that sentence with Baby.
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whats with all the off topic photos this is not the blog for them
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Thanks, Angela.

TWC first aired in 1982, the year my first child was born and I moved to Germany. Up until then you listened to the five o'clock news for the five minute weather report...


We've come a long way, huh? :)
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Given the current look (very impressive), which of the models performed best in terms of this outcome in the Western Caribbean intensity wise several days out?

the GFS...

This year - GFS 2 : EURO 0
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Quoting Articuno:
When are HH going out in it again?


They've scheduled a mission to get a first fix at 8pm EDT.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Cloudsat of the Arctic storm..


Skye, Have you got more links on this?
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Given the current look (very impressive), which of the models performed best in terms of this outcome in the Western Caribbean intensity wise several days out?
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Wow dodged a bullet rain bands are just getting circular in the west and s.west Quadrant. Looking at radar. Still hope everyone is okay in this storm.

2 Fatalities were reported when Ernesto cruised through the islands 4 days ago...
Torrential rain and high winds on the coastal regions and villages will not help the matter, and will probably cause many mudslides as Ernesto traverses the region...
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Ernesto is intensifying just prior to landfall. May well come ashore as CAT 2

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Quoting 1900hurricane:
The eyewall does not appear to be very large in diameter.


It probably wont... The center is compact and very tightened up right now...


I Imagine recon will find 85+ Mph winds and an even lower pressure when they get into Ernesto later this eveining...
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Wow dodged a bullet rain bands are just getting circular in the west and s.west Quadrant. Looking at radar. Still hope everyone is okay in this storm.
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Look for Ernesto to come in at Tulum or Xelha... SW of Cozumel.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



what you this posted is off topic and we have a storm out there so i would re move it or risk geting a bannd for 24hrs

How is saying something related to the NHC 'off topic'?
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you guys are makeing it vary hard too ues this blog right now what knock it off with the moveing photos you guys are geting way way Carried Away
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The eyewall does not appear to be very large in diameter.

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Quoting STXHurricanes2012:
They'll make it in time!


They better do NE quadrant first!
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Quoting Articuno:

Is that 7 p.m. EDT?


Is that take off or in the storm at 00z?
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62. Skyepony (Mod)
Cloudsat of the Arctic storm..

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Quoting Ameister12:

And now they're working again. :-D


Takes a while to update from NOAA Satellite Information Services.... The new frame has to be added to the Gif... So seems there will be gaps between updates...
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Recon is on runway ready for takeoff.
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Quoting Ameister12:

And now they're working again. :-D



what you this posted is off topic and we have a storm out there so i would re move it or risk geting a bannd for 24hrs
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New Curiosity's Landscape Portrait in Context

This picture of the Martian landing site of NASA's Curiosity rover puts a color view obtained by the rover in the context of a computer simulation derived from images acquired from orbiting spacecraft. The view looks north, showing a distant ridge that is the north wall and rim of Gale Crater.


Mars weather patterns are going to be further studied by this rover

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Quoting Tazmanian:



they this took off
LOL....Damn..... I'm starting to understand TAZ's language... That scares me
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Outflow from Ernesto with a TW giving us some thunderstorms....



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Quoting STXHurricanes2012:
They'll make it in time!



they this took off
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They'll make it in time!
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
When is the forecast 90 degree left turn going to take place?




likey wont
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When is the forecast 90 degree left turn going to take place?
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Quoting Ameister12:
The NHC animated GIFs aren't working for me!!!

lmao, nice!!!
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Thanks you Angela......Quite a ramp up
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Thanks Angela.
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this in time recon on the way
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Quoting 954FtLCane:


Radar imagery shows wnw movement which almost looks to be due west. In no way is it NW.


I have found it is extremely hard to pick out the true motion from short radar or satellite loops. If this were making landfall along the US coast where it would be under the umbrella of one of our WSR-88D installations, you could use software like GRLevel3 to place a marker at the start of a loop and then measure the bearing from the final image to get a good idea of short-term motion.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
am not sure if the recon will make it in time be for land fall
landfall looks to me around 9Pm tonight
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Satellite imagery reveals that Ernesto will probably have a pinhole eye should it develop one.
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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