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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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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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.

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1292. 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.
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Quoting huntsvle:

Where's the sarcasm!?


LOL
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Quoting stormchaser19:


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

Where's the sarcasm!?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Was wondering what happened to it.

Was doing multiple things at once and it's late at night.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Oh, so you're taking the easy way out are, you? I thought you were a man! :P


Oh hush you're whining! I'll do another one when something develops or is a threat to develop.
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1287. WoodyFL
Quoting huntsvle:



Anyone have thoughts about that circulation in the NW corner of the loop. It doesn't have a lot of convection but it's most definitely a good circulation. If you loop that image you can see that it appears to be making a little turnabout and may just hop in line with the others??


Yes, that is an upper low which is expected to impact Europe in a few days.
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Quoting stormchaser19:


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


I actually agree.
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Quoting WoodyFL:


I don't wanna be sarcastic but i think this wave maybe enter in the atlantic like a T.D
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Poppin in to see that E came in a bit south of where I thought (Punta Allen) but not too far away. Think he'll make the BOC. Lots to watch ahead for sure. Rest up 'cane people....
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Makes me not want to do another blog. Why risk my 100% accuracy?


Oh, so you're taking the easy way out are, you? I thought you were a man! :P
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1282. WoodyFL
Quoting huntsvle:



Anyone have thoughts about that circulation in the NW corner of the loop. It doesn't have a lot of convection but it's most definitely a good circulation. If you loop that image you can see that it appears to be making a little turnabout and may just hop in line with the others??


I don't post much so I don't loop,
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Blog on the full Atlantic, go check it out!


Was wondering what happened to it.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Yes yes, we know. Don't think our rivalry ends here! :P


Makes me not want to do another blog. Why risk my 100% accuracy?
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Blog on the full Atlantic, go check it out!
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Quoting WoodyFL:
As they mentioned earlier here this storm over africa looks very strong.




Anyone have thoughts about that circulation in the NW corner of the loop. It doesn't have a lot of convection but it's most definitely a good circulation. If you loop that image you can see that it appears to be making a little turnabout and may just hop in line with the others??
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The entire US is bound to get hit sooner or later. If I had to choose the three most likely states in a given order, it would be:

Florida
North Carolina
Texas

Sorry AtHome. I swear I have nothing against you, sweetie.


Lol. Be careful we share some of those storms. ;)
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Quoting WoodyFL:
As they mentioned earlier here this storm over africa looks very strong.



History, anyone?

"The vigorous westward-moving tropical wave that spawned Danielle moved off the west coast of Africa early on 12 August. While over land, the system already possessed several characteristics associated with tropical cyclones - a well-defined low-level wind field, bands of deep convection spiraling into the center, and a well-established anticyclonic outflow pattern. After the wave reached the warm Atlantic waters about 450 n mi southeast of the Cape Verde Islands, more deep convection developed near the center of circulation. Curved convective bands became better defined and Dvorak satellite classifications were initiated at 1800 UTC that day. The wave moved west-northwestward at 12-14 kt, becoming better organized, and it is estimated that a tropical depression formed from it around 1200 UTC 13 August about 210 n mi southeast of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands. The "best track" chart of the tropical cyclone's path is given in Figure 1, with the wind and pressure histories shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3, respectively. The best track positions and intensities are listed in Table 1."
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1275. WoodyFL
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1274. WoodyFL
As they mentioned earlier here this storm over africa looks very strong.

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Quoting Ryuujin:


Thanks. I'm just wondering because I know we're forecast to get some cooler weather here in the Midwest over the next couple of days and that usually = trof for us (especially during this time of year.) Interesting developments to say the least.


You guys need the break in temps! Hopefully that means you'll be receiving some rains as well.

About that trough, it just shows you how close the US was to seeing the wrath of Ernesto. Trough being a little faster and Ernesto being a little slower could have changed everything.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I don't mean to brag or anything, but someone got Ernesto's eventual track right before he entered the Caribbean. :-D I may have been a little far north since I was biased to Northern Mexico, but my reasoning was sufficient.

Link



Yes yes, we know. Don't think our rivalry ends here! :P
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Quoting caneswatch:


This is gonna be one long season, I'm dreading it already.


One long August for sure. Have you been keeping tabs on the GFS lately?
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I Spy Ernesto
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I don't mean to brag or anything, but someone got Ernesto's eventual track right before he entered the Caribbean. :-D I may have been a little far north since I was biased to Northern Mexico, but my reasoning was sufficient.

Link

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We are currently only about 25 miles south of the center of Ernesto with 10 minute average winds of 19kts. I am not complaining, but I would have thought an 80mph storm would produce a little higher winds.

Lots of rain, though/
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1267. Ryuujin
Quoting MississippiWx:


Howdy.

Well, now that he's inland he should begin to weaken rather quickly. I think he's currently stronger than the NHC's numbers, so that probably means that he will be downgraded before I think he should. He still has about 12 hours of traversing the Yucatan before he reemerges in the Bay of Campeche. Despite the NHC being more conservative with their intensity estimate, Ernesto still isn't going to survive as a hurricane all the way. Since Ernesto is missing the highest terrain of the Yucatan, his circulation should stay intact and he should start strengthening immediately on the other side. Even if he reaches major hurricane status, the steering should remain the same due to the strong ridge over the Southern Plains.


Thanks. I'm just wondering because I know we're forecast to get some cooler weather here in the Midwest over the next couple of days and that usually = trof for us (especially during this time of year.) Interesting developments to say the least.
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Quoting stormchaser19:


I'M from DR and the wave that is comming of africa looks like he don't want pick up, the position of the ridge is the problem is to far to the south, and i think this storm will impact the north side of my country if the trend continues


Well the issue is not that it's just one ridge. It's really two separate ridges that are adjusting steering around the CONUS changes in either ridge could affect the movement of a TC. It's also that time of year where the ridges back off a little bit. Mid august is when Southern parts of TX/LA see some weakening. Should a storm be far enough north on it's track, the ridge can carry it around. That's what happened with Ike and we were completely devastated here.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The entire US is bound to get hit sooner or later. If I had to choose the three most likely states in a given order, it would be:

Florida
North Carolina
Texas

Sorry AtHome. I swear I have nothing against you, sweetie.


This is gonna be one long season, I'm dreading it already.
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Quoting Ryuujin:
Hey Mississippi,

With the arrival of that eye over land, do you think that Ernesto could maintain Hurricane Strength even going over that really rough part of the Yucatan Pen? And if so, what are the steering currents like for a hurricane that might intensify straight off the coast?


Howdy.

Well, now that he's inland he should begin to weaken rather quickly. I think he's currently stronger than the NHC's numbers, so that probably means that he will be downgraded before I think he should. He still has about 12 hours of traversing the Yucatan before he reemerges in the Bay of Campeche. Despite the NHC being more conservative with their intensity estimate, Ernesto still isn't going to survive as a hurricane all the way. Since Ernesto is missing the highest terrain of the Yucatan, his circulation should stay intact and he should start strengthening immediately on the other side. Even if he reaches major hurricane status, the steering should remain the same due to the strong ridge over the Southern Plains.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Could be. I don't know what else that would be.


Coming up from the Caribbean, might be something brewing down there, but what could it be?
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Quoting caneswatch:


Busy on both oceans, yeah I can see why you're wiped after everything. Looks to be an active month, I hope it's a miss, but it's been 7 years and either of our states are bound to get hit sooner or later.


The entire US is bound to get hit sooner or later. If I had to choose the three most likely states in a given order, it would be:

Florida
North Carolina
Texas

Sorry AtHome. I swear I have nothing against you, sweetie.
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Quoting huntsvle:


It's most definitely going to be a busy couple of weeks. With that and the next wave that looks to be promising coming off africa soon...many of us are going to be very busy. I can't express this enough, but if you haven't already you need to go through your hurricane checklist and supply kit just in case.


I'M from DR and the wave that is comming of africa looks like he don't want pick up, the position of the ridge is the problem is to far to the south, and i think this storm will impact the north side of my country if the trend continues
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I've actually been really busy. Work + blogging multiple simultaneous systems = tired me. :(


Busy on both oceans, yeah I can see why you're wiped after everything. Looks to be an active month, I hope it's a miss, but it's been 7 years and either of our states are bound to get hit sooner or later.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
1:00 AM CDT Wed Aug 8
Location: 18.8N 88.3W
Moving: W at 15 mph
Min pressure: 983 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph

http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/GOES05402012221 u2fGWa.jpg

This is not an 80mph hurricane.


There isn't much they can do when they're restricted by Dvorak constraints. Not to mention surface observations are quite scarce in this region.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That was taken at 2345 UTC. It is now 0600 UTC, so it's several hours old. They aren't allowed to do Dvorak estimates with a system overland.

Yeah I added that to my comment.
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I think Ernesto is mad at us for understating his wind speeds so he is gonna show us his evil eye and give us the stare :p.... shuld b stonger then 85mph.... At least 95-100
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1256. WoodyFL
Quoting 7544:


cmc also shows a fl. system on the 12th possible flo ?
Link


the old florence is looking better.

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1255. Ryuujin
Hey Mississippi,

With the arrival of that eye over land, do you think that Ernesto could maintain Hurricane Strength even going over that really rough part of the Yucatan Pen? And if so, what are the steering currents like for a hurricane that might intensify straight off the coast?
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Quoting ConsejoBelize:
Current Conditions for Consejo, Belize
Belize/Mexico Border - 
Across The Rio Hondo From Chetumal.
Location: 18.27N   88.18W

Wind WSW @ 16kts  -  Gusts to 34kts

Pressure: 996.6mb rising

Temp: 76F

Rain Rate: 4.18 in/hr

Storm Total Rain: 4.28 inches


Nice to see a blogger near the landfall location. I doubt it'll be anything serious, but please keep us posted.
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1:00 AM CDT Wed Aug 8
Location: 18.8N 88.3W
Moving: W at 15 mph
Min pressure: 983 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph



This is not an 80mph hurricane.
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Current Conditions for Consejo, Belize
Belize/Mexico Border - 
Across The Rio Hondo From Chetumal.
Location: 18.27N   88.18W

Wind WSW @ 16kts  -  Gusts to 34kts

Pressure: 996.6mb rising

Temp: 76F

Rain Rate: 4.18 in/hr

Storm Total Rain: 4.28 inches
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Quoting AussieStorm:

20120807 2345 18.7 87.3 T4.5/4.5 05L ERNESTO


That was taken at 2345 UTC. It is now 0600 UTC, so it's several hours old. They aren't allowed to do Dvorak estimates with a system overland.
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Quoting 7544:


cmc also shows a fl. system on the 12th possible flo ?
Link


Could be. I don't know what else that would be.
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1249. WoodyFL
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Ummmmm. I don't know. I'm sorry someone yelled at you. Next time just pretend they didn't lol.


I dont mind. I was just kidding. I see you all have fun yelling at each other.
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1248. TXCWC
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Thanks TX. I didn't have that one. :)


No problem - glad I could help :)
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20120807 2345 18.7 87.3 T4.5/4.5 05L ERNESTO

This is weird.... how can this be right.
Would this be a double eye?


btw it is a few hours old
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Lol. Stop that! Or move Louisiana farther away from me. :P


Oh come on. When have I ever done you wrong? :)
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
This is definitely no 85 MPH cane... Beautiful pinhole right now, I'm guessing this was approaching Cat 3 intensity at landfall...



totally not.. look ay that eye...
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1244. WoodyFL
i think 92 has bigger storms on its northern parts now

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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