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 MississippiWx:


Well, what a pisser.



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Quoting MississippiWx:


Good to have you.

Ernie was close to popping the eye out over water. Friction with land helped to finish the job. He'll most likely begin to weaken more quickly in the next few hours.


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I will be very interested to see how quick the NHC is in mentioning the African wave.
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Quoting patrikdude2:
Hey guys,

I have been a lurker here for a while, but I must say that I find the late-night "humor" from you people quite entertaining xD. Anyways, Ernesto popping an eye after landfall was a bit of a surprise to me. Nonetheless, it has managed to sustain it, too!


Good to have you.

Ernie was close to popping the eye out over water. Friction with land helped to finish the job. He'll most likely begin to weaken more quickly in the next few hours.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Hey, is that Kori??
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Someone forgot to tell Ernesto that he's supposed to weaken on land.

1/3 of the way across...



If that doesn't change, that could spell some trouble once he's in the BOC
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EURO showing storm behind 92l also but it takes it north unlike the CMC and GFS. Looks like there's a lot of agreement on development anyway.

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Someone forgot to tell Ernesto that he's supposed to weaken on land.

1/3 of the way across...

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Hey guys,

I have been a lurker here for a while, but I must say that I find the late-night "humor" from you people quite entertaining xD. Anyways, Ernesto popping an eye after landfall was a bit of a surprise to me. Nonetheless, it has managed to sustain it, too!
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Quoting justsouthofnola:
check out the 2am spagehti models for 92l.....
sure hope it steers clear of the gom


Hmmmmm.....gfs ensembles in pretty good agreement on this one. The gfs has it all the way in the carribean.
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1333. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #53
TROPICAL STORM HAIKUI (1211)
15:00 PM JST August 8 2012
=============================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Overland Central China

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Haikui (985 hPa) located at 30.2N 120.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: Overland

Gale Force Winds
================
210 NM from the center in northeast quadrant
150 NM from the center in southwest quadrant

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

24 HRS: 31.2N 118.7E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) - Overland Central China
48 HRS: 31.3N 118.5E - Tropical Depression Overland Central China
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check out the 2am spagehti models for 92l.....
sure hope it steers clear of the gom
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Quoting MississippiWx:


LOL.

Don't make me do a U MAD reference..


I wouldn't advise trying to out-meme me... As many people on this blog know, I post a lot of good ones.
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1328. WoodyFL
The african wave just updated


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Quoting WxGeekVA:


And I thought I was the immature 17 year old teenager on the blog... GF as a comeback? Wow, pretty sure that was cool/funny/effective back in freshman year...


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Quoting WxGeekVA:


And I thought I was the immature 17 year old teenager on the blog... GF as a comeback? Wow, pretty sure that was cool/funny/effective back in freshman year...


LOL.

Don't make me do a U MAD reference..
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1325. WoodyFL
Quoting MississippiWx:


Cool, I'll have to use that one next time.


I guess you might using it. Do you all want the link to the main page? I don't think he will mind if i give it to you.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


My bad. I'm just a little agitated that your GF is late for our nightly meeting. Plane travel gets a little hectic, I guess. Still agitated, though.


And I thought I was the immature 17 year old teenager on the blog... GF as a comeback? Wow, pretty sure that was cool/funny/effective back in freshman year...
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Quoting AussieStorm:




LOL...Nice.
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Evening all... haven't checked in at all today so I'd just thought I'd share my thoughts.

Ernesto is looking really, really impressive. I find it very hard to believe it made landfall in the Yucatan as an 85 mph storm. More than likely it was stronger. The NHC has got to stop being conservative when they have folks in the line of fire. Fish storm? Sure, but a storm that is expected to affect land? Heck no. In any case... that eye looks really impressive. We should count our lucky stars that it stayed weak throughout the Caribbean. We could have dealt with a much stronger storm in the central GOM by this time, I shudder to even think of that. We really got off the hook with this one. As far as the track goes, it will probably weaken to a moderate/strong TS by the time it finishes traversing the Yucatan, but once it gets into the BOC, boy it won't take long for it to reintensify given the favorable environment and the history that area has had with tropical systems. Could be pushing Cat 2 or 3 before it makes its final landfall in central Mexico. As far as what the models are showing, I am very concerned about the pattern ahead, as it could be favorable for an east coast strike. We shall see.
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Quoting WoodyFL:
I have a link I think you all might like. Someone on here gave it to me a long time ago. all you have to do is click on it a few time and it tracks the storm for you. I hope you like it.

Link


Cool, I'll have to use that one next time.
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1319. WoodyFL
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Thanks. :)


yw hope you like it.
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Quoting WoodyFL:
I have a link I think you all might like. Someone on here gave it to me a long time ago. all you have to do is click on it a few time and it tracks the storm for you. I hope you like it.

Link


Thanks. :)
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whooaaaaa what happened to ernesto wth it looks like a cat 4 over land woww and he couldnt do this over water im so shocked right now becuase of the impressive eye..this better be a major
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Ladies... Calm down... No need to go to U mad bro right now!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Only when you're around.


I'd be mad too if I had predicted a Central Gulf landfall.

Ohhhhhhh snap.
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1312. WoodyFL
I have a link I think you all might like. Someone on here gave it to me a long time ago. all you have to do is click on it a few time and it tracks the storm for you. I hope you like it.

Link
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Whooaaa. Someone woke up on the wrong side of Baton Rouge.

U mad?





Only when you're around.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
waitin on latest image forever
finally got it
last one till after 8 am
iam going to hit the rack


T.C.O.L.
WEAKENING FLAG ON
05L/XH/E/XX




We say "the sack" here in the south. Guess your way sounds a little better.

...On second thought, no it doesn't.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
waitin on latest image forever
finally got it
last one till after 8 am
iam going to hit the rack


T.C.O.L.
WEAKENING FLAG ON
05L/XH/E/XX



Night Keeper, he is still looking good and holding on to that eye.
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1307. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
waitin on latest image forever
finally got it
last one till after 8 am
iam going to hit the rack


T.C.O.L.
WEAKENING FLAG ON
05L/XH/E/XX


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1306. WoodyFL
Yea thats it christine. who posted it today?
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Yeah, we get it. This is the 3rd post in response to the question.

:-D

And posted it first:)
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1303. WoodyFL
Quoting stormchaser19:


I don't wanna be sarcastic but i think this wave maybe enter in the atlantic like a T.D


I won't mind if you are sarcastic. It would make me a little more comfortable with you all. I see how you are with each other. If you were all polite Id feel left out.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Formed over Africa then died before it could even reach hurricane status. LOL.

Meet Buzz Killington.

Buzz kill, the wave over Africa does look good but 92L is the first threat for development.
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1301. JLPR2
Ha!
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Yeah, we get it. This is the 3rd post in response to the question.

:-D


I hate you.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Christine:



Yeah, we get it. This is the 3rd post in response to the question.

:-D
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Quoting WoodyFL:
Somebody posted a storm today that really formed over africa and it was named while still over land. I think 1973 but forgot the name.


Christine:

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Quoting WoodyFL:
Somebody posted a storm today that really formed over africa and it was named while still over land. I think 1973 but forgot the name.


wxchaser97 ya just beat me dude
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Seems to me like the NHC is being more conservative than usual this year...
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Quoting wxchaser97:



Formed over Africa then died before it could even reach hurricane status. LOL.

Meet Buzz Killington.
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1294. WoodyFL
Quoting stormchaser19:


I don't wanna be sarcastic but i think this wave maybe enter in the atlantic like a T.D


If you look at it animated it is actually moving SW over Africa not really westward. So I would think it has even a better chance to develop coming off at a lower latitude. Can someone post the animation?
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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