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Ernesto weakens; Florence forms; fires, historic heat wave in Oklahoma

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:12 PM GMT on August 04, 2012

Enigmatic Tropical Storm Ernesto continues westward across the Caribbean, but has weakened. Ernesto certainly looks impressive on visible satellite loops, with a symmetric shape, good spiral banding, and an upper-level outflow channel to the north and east. But this morning's flight by the Hurricane Hunters found that Ernesto had weakened, with top winds of just 50 mph, and a central pressure that had risen to 1008 mb. The storm is fighting low to moderate wind shear of 5 - 15 knots, and water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the west. Upper level winds from the west are driving this dry air into the west side of the storm. Ernesto's rains are staying just north of the ABC Islands, as seen on Aruba radar. The southern shore of the Dominican Republic is experiencing occasional heavy rains from Ernesto's spiral bands.


Figure 1. Morning visible satellite image of Ernesto taken at 8 am EDT, with echoes from a microwave satellite instrument in the 85 GHz band superimposed. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Forecast for Ernesto
Ernesto continues to be a major challenge to forecast. Despite the seemingly favorable conditions for intensification expected today through Tuesday, with low wind shear, a moister environment, and increasing heat energy in the ocean, many of our top computer models refuse to predict intensification, and in fact, weaken the storm. Of the major dynamical models NHC uses operationally--the ECMWF, GFS, NOGAPS, UKMET, GFDL, and HWRF--only the NOGAPS and GFDL show Ernesto reaching hurricane strength in the Caribbean. The ECMWF dissipates the storm. However, some of the best statistical models, such as the LGEM and SHIPS, do show Ernesto becoming a Category 1 or 2 hurricane in the Caribbean. The official NHC intensity forecast of a Category 1 hurricane between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is a reasonable compromise, but the uncertainty in this is high. It would not be a surprise to see Ernesto mysteriously degrade, or undergo rapid intensification into a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Yucatan. Such is the state of modern hurricane intensity forecasting. Given that we don't have a very good idea of how strong Ernesto will become, making an accurate track forecast is hard. A stronger Ernesto will be more likely to feel the influence of a trough of low pressure moving to the north of the storm on Tuesday, which would pull the storm to the northwest into the Gulf of Mexico. This would likely result in a landfall in the U.S. A weaker Ernesto is more likely to head almost due west, resulting in a landfall Wednesday in Belize or Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. This is the more likely solution, given the recent behavior of the storm.

Tropical Storm Florence forms
Tropical Storm Florence has arrived in the far Eastern Atlantic, marking the 3rd earliest date for formation of the Atlantic's sixth named storm. Only 2005 and 1936 had earlier arrivals of the season's sixth storm. The new tropical storm developed unusually quickly from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa just two days ago, and the storm's formation was aided by a pulse warm ocean water and associated low pressure called a Convectively Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW.) The SHIPS model is diagnosing a moderate 10 - 15 knots of wind shear over Florence, and predicts that the shear will stay in the moderate range over weekend, then increase to the high range as Florence encounters an upper-level trough of low pressure. The latest Saharan Air Layer Analysis shows that a large area of dry air lies to the north and west of Florence, and this dry air will likely cause problems for the storm. Ocean temperature are near 26 - 26.5°C, which is right at the threshold for where a tropical storm can typically exist. The predicted steering current flow for Florence does not favor a long-range threat to any land areas.

Historic heat wave in Oklahoma
A historic heat wave and drought fueled raging fires on Friday in Oklahoma. The fires destroyed at least 65 homes, forced multiple evacuations, and closed major roads. Oklahoma City had its hottest day in history, hitting 113°, tying the city's all-time heat record set on August 11, 1936. The low bottomed out at 84°, the warmest low temperature ever recorded in the city (previous record: a low of 83° on August 13, 1936.) Oklahoma City has now had three consecutive days with a high of 112° or higher, which has never occurred since record keeping began in 1891. With today's high expected to reach 113° again, the streak may extend to four straight days. Yesterday was the third consecutive day with more than a third of Oklahoma experiencing temperatures of 110° or higher, according to readings from the Oklahoma Mesonet. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) declared a "Critical" fire weather day over most of Oklahoma yesterday, due to extreme heat and drought, low humidities, and strong winds. Between 4 - 5 pm CDT Friday, Oklahoma City had a temperature of 113°, a humidity of 12%, and winds of 14 mph gusting to 25 mph. Another "Critical" fire weather day has been declared for Saturday. A cold front approaching from the northwest will bring winds even stronger than Friday's winds, and Oklahoma will likely endure another hellish day of extreme heat, dryness, and fires.


Figure 2. The Geary, Oklahoma fire, looking north, on August, 3, 2012. Image credit: Oklahoma City Fire Department. The Geary fire spawned a gustnado.

Only comparable heat wave: August 1936
The only heat wave in Oklahoma history that compares to this week's occurred in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history. Oklahoma City experienced three days at 110° that summer, and a record streak of 22 straight days with a temperature of 100° or hotter. Those numbers are comparable to 2012's: three days at 110° or hotter, and a string of 17 consecutive days with temperatures of 100° or hotter. It's worth noting that Oklahoma City has experienced only 11 days since 1890 with a high of 110° or greater. Three of those days were in 2011, three were in 2012, and three were in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Clouds moved in over Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday, holding down the high temperature to just 107°, ending that city's 3-day streak of 110°+ days. The only longer streak was 5 consecutive days on August 9 - 13, 1936.


Figure 3. Most of Oklahoma has experienced eight consecutive days with highs of 100° or more, and many regions, including Oklahoma City, have had a streak of 17 such days. Image credit: Oklahoma Mesonet.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Hurricanes101:


This is nothing like Emily

Emily was a major hurricane by this point


He probably means Emily of 2011
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How much weight does everyone think the NHC gives to Historical Cliamatology vs the current model suites?
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


This is nothing like Emily

Emily was a major hurricane by this point


lol, they meant last year's Emily. :P
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 603 Comments: 21956
No closed low Dolly.

Which reminds me.. .where is kman?

Also anybody note the wind minimum at flight level I posted? 15mph at flight level, 45mph at surface? somewhat SW of the apparent LLC?

Do we have a tilted centre of circulation?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 24928
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Ernesto needs to get out of the Eastern Caribbean if it wants to ever become a interesting system.

Still think the Euro was off it's rocker, but this might not even be a tropical cyclone right now. No closed circulation. TS Emily all over again. Off for the night.


Teddy,gave up on Ernesto?
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2090. scott39
Ernestos 12 hour average movement is 16.7mph. He is slowing down.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6995
Quoting Krycek1984:
How quickly so many of you have forgotten the lessons of Emily!

This is looking like Emily 2.0


This is nothing like Emily

Emily was a major hurricane by this point
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Recon discovered Ernesto has a pathetic excuse for a LLC that is really more like a very-strong-trough signature. I can't see much strengthening until there are stronger west winds.

its the trade winds. remember when ernesto entered the carribean he looked like a wave and the next morning he shocked all of us. same thing is happening now. moral of story. he wont get stronger until jamaica
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Quoting stormtopz1:


Are you in the western caribbean stormpetrol?


Grand Cayman , Cayman Islands and I know you never turn your back on systems like Ernesto until they have passed you by!
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Quoting Krycek1984:
How quickly so many of you have forgotten the lessons of Emily!

This is looking like Emily 2.0


I was thinking about her...the storm. lol
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C'mon 4 degrees west to go you can do it.
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For the record the european has been suggesting the low-level circulation decouples with the 500 hPa circulation in around 24 hours.

edit: could be another impressive victory for the GFS.
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How quickly so many of you have forgotten the lessons of Emily!

This is looking like Emily 2.0
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2082. ncstorm
Quoting Walshy:
Levi > Rest of the Blog


No, it's not a hurricane. It's more likely to affect Mexico. No, it's not going to clip the Yucatan, it's looking like they will be dealt a significant landfall.

End rant...

Yucatan needs to prepare. Mexico should be on high alert. It's sad to be mentioning Louisiana before these places...but that's the blog for ya...


um humm..
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Done watching recon at this point not sure what they are doing and its wasting ram.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
Quoting weatherguy03:


Yeah imagine if it just stays like this and weakens and runs right into Nicaragua!..LOL It can happen.


But not likely!!:-)
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
Quoting reedzone:
Ernesto is NOT an open wave...


I know I'm just being sarcastic!!
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2078. wpb
Quoting stormtopz1:
I watched your video Levi.

Wow, I think you called it.

Probably going to rapidly intensify in the west caribbean.

hmrf late run has it down to nothing???
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I RAGEQUIT STORM TRACKING
ILL COMEBACK WHEN ERNESTO STRENGTHENED..
:(
T_T
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 3001
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
here it is now
last update 5 min ago...




So according to what they seem to think the LLC is 70 miles further west then where everything else says it should be.



If that is in fact true, somehow, then the storm is done.


Too bad I see no evidence on sattilite to support that claim.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
Quoting stormpetrol:


Just being sarcastic Taz, Ernesto is doing just fine!


Are you in the western caribbean stormpetrol?
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Ernesto needs to get out of the Eastern Caribbean if it wants to ever become a interesting system.

Still think the Euro was off it's rocker, but this might not even be a tropical cyclone right now. No closed circulation. TS Emily all over again. Off for the night.
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Quoting Levi32:
It would also be a mistake to assume that if Ernesto opens up now he will never come back from it. The western Caribbean will be much more favorable for this system, and as Bob said it has survived better than we usually can hope for with these east Caribbean systems. This will likely be a strengthening problem for the Yucatan Peninsula, as long as it doesn't somehow make a dive into Nicaragua like the ECMWF was showing a few times.


Yeah imagine if it just stays like this and weakens and runs right into Nicaragua!..LOL It can happen.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
2072. Walshy
Levi > Rest of the Blog


No, it's not a hurricane. It's more likely to affect Mexico. No, it's not going to clip the Yucatan, it's looking like they will be dealt a significant landfall.

End rant...

Yucatan needs to prepare. Mexico should be on high alert. It's sad to be mentioning Louisiana before these places...but that's the blog for ya...
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Quoting Levi32:
It would also be a mistake to assume that if Ernesto opens up now he will never come back from it. The western Caribbean will be much more favorable for this system, and as Bob said it has survived better than we usually can hope for with these east Caribbean systems. This will likely be a strengthening problem for the Yucatan Peninsula, as long as it doesn't somehow make a dive into Nicaragua like the ECMWF was showing a few times.
remember how many times he has looked terrible and the next day the trade winds weakened and he looks really good. same thing is happening and you were right that he wont get stronger until 75W
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here it is now
last update 5 min ago...

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2069. Patrap

Product: Air Force High Density (HDOB) Message (URNT15 KNHC)
Transmitted: 5th day of the month at 00:13Z
Date: August 5, 2012
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 307)
Storm Number: 05
Storm Name: Ernesto (flight in the North Atlantic basin)

Mission Number: 5

Observation Number: 14

00:14:30Z 14.567N 72.383W 842.8 mb

(~ 24.89 inHg) 1,571 meters
(~ 5,154 feet) 1008.5 mb
(~ 29.78 inHg) - From 9° at 10 knots
(From the N at ~ 11.5 mph) 18.5°C
(~ 65.3°F) 14.9°C
(~ 58.8°F) 10 knots
(~ 11.5 mph) 14 knots
(~ 16.1 mph) 2 mm/hr
(~ 0.08 in/hr) 14.0 knots (~ 16.1 mph)
140.0%
Time Coordinates Aircraft
Static Air Pressure Aircraft
Geopotential Height Extrapolated
Surface Pressure D-value Flight Level Wind (30 sec. Avg.) Air Temp. Dew Point Peak (10 sec. Avg.)
Flight Level Wind SFMR
Peak (10s Avg.) Sfc. Wind SFMR
Rain Rate Estimated Surface Wind (30 sec. Avg.)
Using Estimated Reduction Factor Peak Wind at Flight Level to
Est. Surface Reduction Factor
HDOB Observations

Independent Calculations from Tropical Atlantic

At 00:05:00Z (first observation), the observation was 249 miles (401 km) to the S (175°) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

At 00:14:30Z (last observation), the observation was 275 miles (442 km) to the S (181°) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Only 1007mbs,wow!
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2067. ncstorm
So what happen with Recon..did they find a hurricane?
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Vortex from a little over 20 minutes ago...


000
URNT12 KNHC 050019
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL052012
A. 05/00:01:00Z
B. 15 deg 06 min N
071 deg 49 min W
C. 850 mb 1492 m
D. 45 kt
E. 101 deg 59 nm
F. 138 deg 44 kt
G. 074 deg 114 nm
H. 1007 mb
I. 17 C / 1582 m
J. 21 C / 1563 m
K. 14 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 1345 / 8
O. 0.02 / 4 nm
P. AF307 0505A ERNESTO OB 04
MAX FL WIND 44 KT E QUAD 23:21:30Z
MAX OUTBOUND FL WIND 13 KT SW QUAD 00:09:30Z

;
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Meanwhile in the Atlantic Florence is actually stronger:


\T31 KNHC 042032
TCPAT1

BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM FLORENCE ADVISORY NUMBER 4
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL062012
500 PM AST SAT AUG 04 2012

...FLORENCE GAINING STRENGTH...FAR FROM LAND...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...15.3N 31.7W
ABOUT 515 MI...830 KM W OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1001 MB...29.56 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM FLORENCE WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 15.3 NORTH...LONGITUDE 31.7 WEST. FLORENCE IS
MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 15 MPH...24 KM/H. A GRADUAL
TURN TOWARD THE WEST AT A SLOWER FORWARD SPEED IS FORECAST FOR THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE INCREASED TO NEAR 50 MPH...85
KM/H...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SOME INCREASE IN STRENGTH IS POSSIBLE
OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 70 MILES...110 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1001 MB...29.56 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
NONE


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1100 PM AST.

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


I know. Dr. M noted in one of his blogs about 15 days ago that they could really use a few tropical storms in the mid-West. You never know; Mother Nature might be trying to deliver the goods but we are at the mercy of ridges, steering current, and trofs and can only watch and wait.

There are those of us who have been watching all this unfold for the last 3 months!
In my my unbiased opinion from the other side of the GOM, ETC. problem, the perfect scenario for a very bad late season has been set up! Blame who and what you want but it will not in any way affect the consequences. These damn storms are breeding out there to bring about a temp balance, not for amusement purposes only!
When you get the temps in the GOM down and the rains back in the central USA then Maybe, just Maybe things might just fall back to an acceptable level.
Our thoughts and hopes go out to anybody who might be in the path of these things!
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Ernesto is NOT an open wave...
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7546
I watched your video Levi.

Wow, I think you called it.

Probably going to rapidly intensify in the west caribbean.

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18z HRWF just went way too the south from its previous run..also weakens Ernesto considerably. Will have to see if this is a trend, but track will probably be shifted southward if GFDl is in line as well.

Link
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whats see what the recon finds
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5100 Comments: 117324
Quoting Tazmanian:





LOL if this is ture big big + for jason LOL


Just being sarcastic Taz, Ernesto is doing just fine!
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Recon discovered Ernesto has a pathetic excuse for a LLC that is really more like a very-strong-trough signature. I can't see much strengthening until there are stronger west winds.

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Appearance suggests 45 mph top end.


Probably a reaction to the cold spot in the water.

Getting off the blog in 20 minutes after recon is done.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
2056. jpsb
Quoting Hurricanes101:


went around the south side and didn't find much in the way of a closed circulation

Hmmm, satelite imagery tells us we have a developing hurricane, picture perfect in every way. HH tell us we do not even have a TC. Someone is lying! But who?
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Quoting Levi32:
I'm interested to see if the NHC says they don't know why Ernesto is weakening for a 2nd discussion in a row after a recon mission. Hopefully they actually have an explanation this time around. Avila mentioned the central Caribbean climatology issues before, but didn't tie in current conditions there with the weakening. Maybe this time they will.


Levi, has to be the dry air, proximity to land still, intense but fairly small low level center compared to the more pleasing and somewhat false evidence of outflow since, imo, the monsoonal trof moisture has helped it stave off the dry air entrainment.

When all else fails, stick to the basics - not fuel, not shear, so it has to be dry air and poor low level convergence.
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2054. Levi32
It would also be a mistake to assume that if Ernesto opens up now he will never come back from it. The western Caribbean will be much more favorable for this system, and as Bob said it has survived better than we usually can hope for with these east Caribbean systems. This will likely be a strengthening problem for the Yucatan Peninsula, as long as it doesn't somehow make a dive into Nicaragua like the ECMWF was showing a few times.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
Quoting Levi32:
I'm interested to see if the NHC says they don't know why Ernesto is weakening for a 2nd discussion in a row after a recon mission. Hopefully they actually have an explanation this time around. Avila mentioned the central Caribbean climatology issues before, but didn't tie in current conditions there with the weakening. Maybe this time they will.


How soon (if ever) could conditions become good for strengthening?
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I still believes Ernesto will be a strong storm, but it's just a mess right now. Got to learn to stop judging the storms by the looks.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8141
In any event standing by what I thought earlier, and still think, mexico.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
So now everyone thinks he is a wave because the trade winds picked up? seriously tomorrow morning everyone will be saying oh my good he is almost a hurricane! relax people we have to see what he looks like tomorrow
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
They're receiving wind shift and pressure dips, obviously they are in the correct position.





Not at all in relation to the most recent sat image (if the planes coordinates are to be believed) they missed the center and are now far outside the cyclone.


Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1557
Somehow, I don't think it has been Ernesto doing the deceiving..... : )
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Quoting DataNerd:



If you fly 100 miles north and west of the bloody thing ofc not.
They're receiving wind shifts and pressure dips, obviously they are in the correct position.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Ernesto is an open wave with gale force winds, it will die a lonely death in the mountains of CA.





LOL if this is ture big big + for jason LOL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5100 Comments: 117324
Alot of you don't have patience at all wow!!! give it time
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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