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

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

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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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Ernesto is gonna be an Absolute monster in another day or so.. that is i have for now ha
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Quoting Drakoen:


LOL.
Uffff, you ain't gonna take this low blow are you TA13? LOLOLOLOL
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!:)
Quoting xtremeweathertracker:


Recon is up!!!
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From 113° at 20 knots
(From the ESE at ~ 23.0 mph

does this mean he's moving wnw?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
inb4cancelled


Cancelled! You cant be serious lol
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Quoting Maineweatherguy20023:

WHAT!!! WHY!


He's probably joking... I hope you are MH09, if not... gahh!
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Plane departed.

URNT15 KNHC 042203
AF307 0505A ERNESTO HDOB 01 20120804
215500 1742N 06448W 0143 00013 0161 +295 +222 360000 000 /// /// 03
215530 1742N 06448W 0145 00010 0159 +295 +223 360000 000 /// /// 03
215600 1742N 06448W 0142 00013 0158 +295 +247 360000 000 /// /// 03
215630 1742N 06448W 0148 00013 0163 +298 +271 360000 000 /// /// 03
215700 1742N 06448W 0148 00016 0165 +300 +287 360000 000 /// /// 03
215730 1742N 06448W 0146 00014 0164 +299 +280 360000 000 /// /// 03
215800 1742N 06448W 0143 00013 0161 +295 +272 360000 000 /// /// 03
215830 1742N 06448W 0145 00013 0161 +294 +279 360000 000 /// /// 03
215900 1742N 06448W 0146 00011 0159 +295 +288 360000 000 /// /// 03
215930 1742N 06448W 0143 00012 0158 +293 +292 360000 000 /// /// 03
220000 1742N 06448W 0142 00012 0157 +290 +290 360000 000 /// /// 05
220030 1742N 06448W 0140 00014 0157 +290 +290 360000 000 /// /// 05
220100 1742N 06448W 0138 00016 0156 +290 +290 360000 000 /// /// 05
220130 1742N 06449W 0135 00018 //// +280 //// 360000 000 /// /// 05
220200 1742N 06449W 0133 00021 //// +280 //// 360000 000 /// /// 05
220230 1742N 06449W 0126 00022 0152 +290 +290 360000 000 /// /// 05
220300 1742N 06449W 0128 00023 0156 +290 +290 360000 000 /// /// 05
220330 1742N 06449W 0125 00023 0156 +270 +270 111008 015 /// /// 05
220400 1742N 06448W 0011 00119 0147 +270 +243 110021 024 /// /// 06
220430 1742N 06447W 9766 00337 0150 +248 +234 113020 021 /// /// 03
$$
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 15310
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Please don't tell me it's cancelled?


Recon is up!!!
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Recon just took off.
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Quoting ncstorm:
84 hours


96



If those two lows along the Txs coast were to materialize that would erode the western ridge as well.


That's the first time I have seen that in the forecast. Disconcerting.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1546
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Please don't tell me it's cancelled?
LOL, nah, it just took off. But with our luck these past few days it wouldn't of surprised me.


220430 1742N 06447W 9766 00337 0150 +248 +234 113020 021 /// /// 03
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is pretty much what Avila said at 5 p.m.

Sounds logical to me.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Nothing on recon yet.



Ernesto's winds always seem to lag behind his great satellite appearance. Don't be surprised if recon does not find more than a small increase in winds (only to about 65mph).
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 546
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
inb4cancelled
Recon has taken off.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
inb4cancelled

WHAT!!! WHY!
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1479. Drakoen
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I don't usually do this, but I think Ernesto deserves it. From now on, I am disregarding all the models and using my brain. Let's look...

We've got an intensifying tropical storm/hurricane passing through the Central Caribbean. As it intensifies, it will move ever so slightly northward. When the system is located in the NW Caribbean, we've got a weakness across the northern Gulf Coast that would pick up any intense hurricane. So let's backtrack.

Sea Surface Temperatures in the NW Caribbean are near 29C. Ocean Heat Content Values are over 140 kJ/cm^2. Wind shear will be 5 knots or less. The environment will be moist. All good conditions for rapid to explosive intensification into a major hurricane. So let's go forward.

A major hurricane in the NW Caribbean would tend to move more poleward anyways, not to mention the fact that a weakness would be located along the northern Gulf Coast. The storm would pass through the Yucatan Channel (or clip the northern Yucatan) and then enter the central Gulf of Mexico. After that time, the trough moves out and ridging begins to build back in, forcing anything in the Gulf to Louisiana.

That's my thinking. Take it for what it's worth.


LOL.
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1478. ncstorm
102 hours
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recon this pop up
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
inb4cancelled
Please don't tell me it's cancelled?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8104
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Next recon: 04/2200Z.

Should be taking off now.
inb4cancelled
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What page was Levi's comment on, if someone would tell me please and ty?
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I don't usually do this, but I think Ernesto deserves it. From now on, I am disregarding all the models and using my brain. Let's look...

We've got an intensifying tropical storm/hurricane passing through the Central Caribbean. As it intensifies, it will move ever so slightly northward. When the system is located in the NW Caribbean, we've got a weakness across the northern Gulf Coast that would pick up any intense hurricane. So let's backtrack.

Sea Surface Temperatures in the NW Caribbean are near 29C. Ocean Heat Content Values are over 140 kJ/cm^2. Wind shear will be 5 knots or less. The environment will be moist. All good conditions for rapid to explosive intensification into a major hurricane. So let's go forward.

A major hurricane in the NW Caribbean would tend to move more poleward anyways, not to mention the fact that a weakness would be located along the northern Gulf Coast. The storm would pass through the Yucatan Channel (or clip the northern Yucatan) and then enter the central Gulf of Mexico. After that time, the trough moves out and ridging begins to build back in, forcing anything in the Gulf to Louisiana.

That's my thinking. Take it for what it's worth.
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1472. ncstorm
84 hours


96
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Next recon: 04/2200Z.

Should be taking off now.
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1470. Grothar
Large Derecho hitting Illinois and Indiana.

Post something.
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ok guys im back and about to leave again, what did i miss and what is expected in the next few hours?
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Looking at Ernesto's moisture field as an arrowhead, he's pointed NW. Seems to me that Ernesto may be making that more northward turn in the coming days. Very surprised the NHC are disregarding the GFDL/HWRF model pair. Busy day, out till later hope all are having a great Saturday.
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Nothing on recon yet.

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Quoting DataNerd:




Thats the third time you said that. WHERE do you see that I have not seen that please show me.
Current:



12z:

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Quoting DataNerd:




Thats the third time you said that. WHERE do you see that I have not seen that please show me.

12z v. 18z





Doesn't really matter much, I guess. All of them are still unreliable.
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1464. Drakoen
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Aw come on you can't make anything more up to date lol


There is nothing to update. Thoughts haven't changed.
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Quoting kimoskee:
Here's my problem, very few people in Jamaica are paying attention to this storm! It's a holiday weekend, it's independence weekend, it's Olympics (yes we just won 100m!!!Go Jamaica!!!)

I'm checking this blog every couple hours trying to decide when we need to leave the north coast to reach home before the weather reaches. It's a 2hr drive.


WE were watching that too...CONGRATS!!!

I was just looking at the imagery and thinking JA may get more of a blow from this storm than first was thought... stay safe!
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That's no moon.

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Quoting Drakoen:
The model teleconnection indices are showing a positive PNA which translates to a western ridge and eastern trough. Such a pattern would allow a hurricane in the Caribbean to move poleward into the Gulf of Mexico. The current issue with the track forecast is the expected strength of Ernesto in the central and western Caribbean. Global models are not enthusiastic about its strengthening prospects and thus output the typical track one would expect of a tropical wave or weak cyclone.

I cannot see a reason why Ernesto would not be able to strengthen further at this time. Satellite imagery depicts an organizing cyclone and not a weakening one, with a respectable central dense overcast and developing radial outflow. I think it will continue to strengthen slowly at first and possibly more significantly in the central and western Caribbean.

A strong trough of low pressure is located over the Central U.S. The mean trough is expected to remain in the east and to be quite potent. My current track philosophy falls inline with the GFDL, HWRF, and AEMI, which is based on the notion that Ernesto will strengthen.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Why is that? Models actually shifted north at 18Z, and it appears Ernesto is going to be stronger than forecast.




Thats the third time you said that. WHERE do you see that I have not seen that please show me.
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1546
Quoting Hurricane1216:


This site has some live statistics.

Quoting IFuSAYso:
Link


thanks! I was on tropical tidbits but it doesnt seem to have the current maps, just the graphs.

now everybody stop pontificating and just watch the data =P
the satellite presentation has been throwing us all for a loop (along with the models), so just wait and see!
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"J" need to get a life... jeez.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8104
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Why is that? Models actually shifted north at 18Z, and it appears Ernesto is going to be stronger than forecast.


Hey TAwx13, could you please post said models? Thanks in advance! Good afternoon everyone!
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 546
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
Alright everybody, now we just wait for the recon data.

Anyone know if Levi's live recon plots are active yet? Or where one can find the data as it's reported?

Link
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Quoting DataNerd:



DRAK



Your late :D


Quick one for you, for ernesto:

1. Meixco
2. Brownsville
3. SE Texas or further east (any location).

3
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Quoting floridaboy14:
if i had to pick im picking a northerly track into the NE Yucatan


I was thinking it could be possible for Ernesto to split the gap between Yucatan and Cuba and maybe head for NOLA.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 102 Comments: 10718
1452. jpsb
Quoting stormpetrol:


Thanks you, I totally agree with you, about 3 hours ago Bastardi wrote nearly the same as levi did on Twitter!

Did he write it before or AFTER levi? lol, kidding Joe would never do that.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1483
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Many of the "keyboard" meteorologists I have been seeing are very cautious to make any bold intensity predictions. Tons of uncertainty with this one.

Personally, I think your in for yet another "W"
Where's Drak's forecast?
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Quoting JasonCoolman2089:
WOW ERNESTO LOOKS MUCH BETTER THAN I THOUGHT!! WOW!!
hope.it.dont.get.to.bad.for.e.texas
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Quoting Drakoen:


Page 2 of this blog



DRAK



Your late :D


Quick one for you, for ernesto:

1. Meixco
2. Brownsville
3. SE Texas or further east (any location).
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1546
Quoting ncstorm:
60 hours out
Ernesto, Florence and Gordon?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Ernesto looks AMAZING. Recon leaves around 6 pm, correct?


Yep, should be interesting.
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Quoting floridaboy14:
if i had to pick im picking a northerly track into the NE Yucatan

Same here.
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Ernesto looks AMAZING. Recon leaves around 6 pm, correct?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8104

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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