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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Satellite imagery reveals that Ernesto will probably have a pinhole eye should it develop one.
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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...
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Quoting Ameister12:
The NHC animated GIFs aren't working for me!!!

LOL histerical
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thanks angela, looks like ernesto will make landfall tonight. i hope everyone along the yucatan r ready and stay safe!!
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Thank you Angela for getting us all up to date from the general points of view.
Bit of a wild card this one? Probably the first of many.
The ugly duckling might just turn out to be a wild swan.
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*Bangs head on wall*

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Quoting Seflhurricane:
dont think so either and its about 100 miles east and closing in





recon is runing out of time
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
my bad read it quickly but its going to make landfall way north of the border prob 100 miles north


Quoting jeffs713:

Um... the blog says:

"landfall is expected north of the the Belize/Mexico border tonight around midnight. "

Punta Allen is north of the Belize/Mexico border, last time I checked.


Looks like the post was edited. It used to say near the border (my first comment included a cut and paste of that sentence), now it says north.
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Quoting 954FtLCane:


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


May need just a few more images to really be able to tell. The eye has only recently formed in that radar.
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Thank You Ms. Fritz. Ernesto has been developing very impressive banding features all day and here are hopes that the folks in Mexico will weather the storm (the flooding is going to be a huge issue with this one). Ernesto saved the best for last. US is very lucky with this one due to the ridging pattern; shooting the Channel gap with this same appearance could have been quite devastating with more time over water.
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Quoting Patrap:

Watching this little guy grow up against all manner of treachery was very satisfying. Kudos again to the GFS.

Now let's see what REALLY happens.
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Quoting 954FtLCane:


Radar imagery shows wnw movement which almost looks to be due west. In no way is it NW.
Looks can be deceiving. Tropical Atlantic has Ernesto moving NW for the last 6 hours and WNW for the last 12.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
am not sure if the recon will make it in time be for land fall
dont think so either and its about 100 miles east and closing in
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We might see ernesto pop an eye out, within the next 4 hours before landfall...
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Thank you, Angela!
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am not sure if the recon will make it in time be for land fall
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Quoting jeffs713:

Um... the blog says:

"landfall is expected north of the the Belize/Mexico border tonight around midnight. "

Punta Allen is north of the Belize/Mexico border, last time I checked.
my bad read it quickly but its going to make landfall way north of the border prob 100 miles north
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Radar imagery shows wnw movement which almost looks to be due west. In no way is it NW.
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Quoting Articuno:

Is that 7 p.m. EDT?
yup
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Quoting Tazmanian:



00z

Is that 7 p.m. EDT?
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
angela i have to disagree with the landfall location Ernesto is way farther north than the border with belize its going to make landfall near PUNTA ALLEN, mexico just south of tulum

Um... the blog says:

"landfall is expected north of the the Belize/Mexico border tonight around midnight. "

Punta Allen is north of the Belize/Mexico border, last time I checked.
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We may very well have a strong cat 1 hurricane right now, i expect it to reach cat 2 just before landfall with winds of 100 MPH
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Track West?
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Quoting Articuno:
When are HH going out in it again?



00z
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Quoting angelafritz:
No prob... we had a weird glitch happen when I first posted. Lost the first half of my intro paragraph. It's back now, my apologies.
angela i have to disagree with the landfall location Ernesto is way farther north than the border with belize its going to make landfall near PUNTA ALLEN, mexico just south of tulum
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Repost in the case anyone missed.
SPECIAL UPDATE Hurricane Ernesto - 8/7/12
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Thanks Angela!
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When are HH going out in it again?
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92L GO!!
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Operative word being west movement.
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A. Fritz says: Ernesto will continue to track west this afternoon and evening, making landfall near the Belize/Mexico border around midnight tonight.

Isn't he already rather far north of the border?
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I like Ernesto's central spiral in the visible satellite. Kind of like a snail shell... a bit unique.
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Thanks!
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Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #49
TYPHOON HAIKUI (1211)
3:00 AM JST August 8 2012
=============================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In East China Sea

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Haikui (965 hPa) located at 28.8N 122.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 65 knots with gusts of 95 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 8 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0

Storm Force Winds
====================
100 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
240 NM from the center in north quadrant
180 NM from the center in south quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
==========================

24 HRS: 30.8N 119.5E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) - Overland Central China
48 HRS: 31.1N 118.9E - Tropical Depression Overland Central China
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No prob... we had a weird glitch happen when I first posted. Lost the first half of my intro paragraph. It's back now, my apologies.
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prime.time.season.is.almost.here
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National Hurricane Center Miami
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #3
TROPICAL CYCLONE GILMA (EP072012)
2:00 PM PDT August 7 2012
==================================

SUBJECT: "Gilma" Continues To Strengthen..

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Gilma (1001 hPa) located at 15.1N 113.9W or 520 NM south southwest of Baja California Peninsula, Mexico has sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
===============
30 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
========================

24 HRS: 16.4N 117.1W - 55 knots (Tropical Cyclone)
48 HRS: 17.2N 119.8W - 60 knots (Tropical Cyclone)
72 HRS: 17.5N 121.0W - 55 knots (Tropical Cyclone)
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Thank You
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Thanks a lot, Angela!
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