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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3545. pottery
Quoting hydrus:
He will get in by way of medical emergency...He is severely injured..:)

HAHAHAHAHAH
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3544. LargoFl
funny thing,most of the sites ive seen this morning with forecasts posted, they all have ernesto on the other side of the yucatan as a cat 1 hurricane next week
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
Quoting unknowncomic:
No matter how strong he is steering says mexico/campeche bound.

yeah maybe 0300UTC this morning now it more or less yucatan/channel
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3542. hydrus
Quoting gordydunnot:
This just in from the State Dept./NHC. Ernesto's Visa request denied.
He will get in by way of medical emergency...He is severely injured..:)
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Quoting zawxdsk:
Last year, just about any time a storm got modestly organized it seemed to have major issues with vertical stacking - the llc disconnected from the mid level circulation. I think a lot of it had to do with moisture availability out in front of the storm. The storm is definitely ingesting dry air out ahead of it.

For Ernesto to reorganize significantly he would have to develop a new center of circulation. However he can continue as is. If he does, the first piece of land he hits will kill him.


Sinking air inhibits cyclogenesis. There's a lot of it about due to the drought. Here's a link to a Wunderground article on it by Dr. Masters in 2010.

Link
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3540. Levi32
Quoting Skyepony:
What does this mean..from the comments on the last recon pass.

LARGE AREA OF L/V SFC WIND, LAST 10 MINS BEFORE FIX.

Not done with coffee yet..


L/V = Light/Variable
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
What happened to trollnesto strengthening.. :*(
It's already in the w carribean and is passing 75W..
This storm is a DUD.
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3538. LargoFl
Quoting gordydunnot:
This just in from the State Dept./NHC. Ernesto's Visa request denied.
LOL good one
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
3537. pottery
Quoting gordydunnot:
This just in from the State Dept./NHC. Ernesto's Visa request denied.

That's strange...
We checked his Documents when he was here last w/e.
They were in good order.
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3536. hydrus
Quoting 900MB:
Is it too late to retroactively take back my prediction yesterday that Ernie would be a Cat 2 by tonight?
I expected it to weaken, but not this much. Chalk one up for Levi32, he said on his blog that this could happen.
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up with my cup of coffee, lurking. quiet this morning O_o
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This just in from the State Dept./NHC. Ernesto's Visa request denied.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3533. LargoFl
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

.THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
DEEPER MOISTURE ON THE EAST SIDE OF A DEPARTING TROUGH WILL LEAD
TO HIGHER RAIN CHANCES TODAY. SHOWER ACTIVITY WILL INCREASE
ACROSS THE REGION WITH ISOLATED TO SCATTERED STORMS POSSIBLE INTO
THE AFTERNOON. MAIN THREATS FROM ANY STORMS WILL BE DANGEROUS CLOUD
TO GROUND LIGHTNING...GUSTY WINDS UP TO 40 MPH...AND HEAVY
DOWNPOURS. STORM MOTION WILL BE TOWARD THE NORTH TO NORTHWEST
AROUND 10 MPH.

.FLOOD IMPACT...
LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AROUND 1 TO 2 INCHES WILL BE POSSIBLE OVER
AREAS THAT SEE STRONGER STORMS OR PERSISTENT SHOWER ACTIVITY THIS
AFTERNOON. THIS MAY CAUSE TEMPORARY MINOR FLOODING OF POOR
DRAINAGE AREAS...SMALL STREAMS...AND AREA ROADWAYS.

.RIP CURRENT IMPACT...
OCEAN CONDITIONS WILL GENERATE A MODERATE RISK OF RIP CURRENTS
ALONG AREA BEACHES TODAY. CHECK WITH LOCAL BEACH PATROL ON THE
LATEST SURF CONDITIONS WHEN ARRIVING AT THE BEACH AND ALWAYS SWIM
NEAR A LIFEGUARD.

.MARINE THUNDERSTORM GUST IMPACT...
ISOLATED TO SCATTERED STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE OVER THE AREA TODAY.
A FEW STRONGER STORMS WILL HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE WIND
GUSTS AROUND 35 KNOTS OVER THE COASTAL WATERS OR AREA LAKES AS
THEY MOVE NORTH TO NORTHWEST AROUND 10 MPH.

.WIND AND SEA IMPACT...
SOUTHEAST WINDS UP TO 15 TO 20 KNOTS WILL KEEP SEAS AROUND 5 TO 6
FEET OVER THE OFFSHORE WATERS OF VOLUSIA AND BREVARD COUNTIES
THROUGH THIS MORNING. SMALL CRAFT WILL NEED TO EXERCISE CAUTION IF
PLANNING ON VENTURING INTO THESE WATERS.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
Quoting kmanislander:


And just found 1007 mbs. Presumably they are going to investigate where we are seeing the exposed LLC


looks like it that swirl although still there doesnt look as good on the last 2 frames of the vis as it did a while ago
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3531. hydrus
Quoting kmanislander:


It would be odd for the mid levels to outrun the surface low. The other way around is what tends to happen.
This is true..I would guess that dry air, subsidence, fast trades, and the downward phase did a job on Ernesto. Western Caribbean could revive it quickly tho.
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3530. 900MB
Is it too late to retroactively take back my prediction yesterday that Ernie would be a Cat 2 by tonight?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
What does this mean..from the comments on the last recon pass.

LARGE AREA OF L/V SFC WIND, LAST 10 MINS BEFORE FIX.

Not done with coffee yet..
I need 2 go get me some....
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3528. pottery
Quoting jascott1967:


deleted, misread the comment

OK
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3527. LargoFl
Quoting Jedkins01:



Gotta love the HPC and their typical downplaying of rainfall over Florida ;)

We've had more than 25 inches of rain since the rainy season started but with their rainfall forecasts you'd think we might have had only 10.
..yeah i know what you mean jed
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
14.983N 76.767W 842.9 mb
(~ 24.89 inHg) 1,561 meters
(~ 5,121 feet) 1007.0 mb
(~ 29.74 inHg)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3525. pottery
Quoting jascott1967:


Some of what you say is true but the climate did change over night. This is been a gradual trend and the models should have accounted for these climate trends. So far the models, especially the GFS has done well this season.

I assume you mean 'did not' ?
But yes, some of the models are performing better than others for the time being.
That's normal too.
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Quoting Saltydogbwi1:


heading north now


And just found 1007 mbs. Presumably they are going to investigate where we are seeing the exposed LLC
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Quoting kmanislander:
Recon heading to the West now. I do not see a center down where they have investigated so far.

Will be back later on when the HH finishes the mission.

they ne3ed to head north
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Quoting LargoFl:



Gotta love the HPC and their typical downplaying of rainfall over Florida ;)

We've had more than 25 inches of rain since the rainy season started but with their rainfall forecasts you'd think we might have had only 10.
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Quoting pottery:

The models obviously consider historical and climo inputs into the mix of information.
Unfortunately, with the Climate being what it is these days, we are in brand new territory.
There is plenty peculiar weather (known these days as 'historical') and this is because of changes to climate norms.

We have never been here before.
Makes forecasting more vague, at best.


deleted, misread the comment
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Quoting kmanislander:
Recon heading to the West now. I do not see a center down where they have investigated so far.

Will be back later on when the HH finishes the mission.


heading north now
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3518. LargoFl
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILMINGTON OH
637 AM EDT SUN AUG 5 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WILMINGTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EASTERN AUGLAIZE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO...
HARDIN COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO...
NORTHWESTERN LOGAN COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO...
NORTHEASTERN SHELBY COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO...

* UNTIL 730 AM EDT.

* AT 634 AM EDT...RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING WINDS TO 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR JACKSON
CENTER...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
LAKEVIEW...
RUSSELLS POINT...
WAYNESFIELD...
BELLE CENTER...
ALGER...
KENTON...
DUNKIRK...

IN ADDITION...LEWISTOWN...ROUNDHEAD...STATE ROUTE 195 AT STATE ROUTE
235...JUMBO...WALTON...SILVER CREEK...MCGUFFEY AND HUNTERSVILLE ARE
NEAR THE PATH OF THIS SEVERE THUNDERSTORM.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

STAY INDOORS AND AWAY FROM WINDOWS UNTIL THE STORM HAS PASSED.

PLEASE REPORT HAIL OR STRONG WINDS TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BY
CALLING TOLL FREE...877-633-6772...WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EDT SUNDAY
FOR SOUTHEASTERN INDIANA AND SOUTHWESTERN OHIO.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
3517. Skyepony (Mod)
What does this mean..from the comments on the last recon pass.

LARGE AREA OF L/V SFC WIND, LAST 10 MINS BEFORE FIX.

Not done with coffee yet..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3516. pottery
Quoting kmanislander:


Actually some of the main reasons Ernesto has struggled have been present in the last two years. Dry air and below climo vertical instability. Ernesto is working without the MJO as well so the synoptic pattern is really not all that conducive at this time in the Caribbean other than high TCHP.

If a storm cannot organise it cannot take advantage of the high heat content to ramp up.

Exactly.
See my post 3511
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Recon heading to the West now. I do not see a center down where they have investigated so far.

Will be back later on when the HH finishes the mission.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3514. LargoFl
Quoting pottery:

The models obviously consider historical and climo inputs into the mix of information.
Unfortunately, with the Climate being what it is these days, we are in brand new territory.
There is plenty peculiar weather (known these days as 'historical') and this is because of changes to climate norms.

We have never been here before.
Makes forecasting more vague, at best.
..yes i agree, its just not normal this year, the climate is changing and i guess we need to change along with it
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
Quoting guygee:
Well you got OSU...
lol.... I know OK was fighting off some TX attempts to get a hold of their water resources from the eastern part of the state... and pple were concerned that the agreements they were being asked to sign would mean TX would get that water even when OK was in drought and needed it... same thing should go for some of the fracking that's been contaminating water tables in that area....
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Quoting Grothar:
Anyone having trouble with the CIMSS link? Images are not updating at all.



last image set at 0300 UTC
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3511. pottery
Quoting LargoFl:
..well seeing how poor a job the models have done so far..I would not worry until i see the storm actually there..something is off this year,cant put my finger on it but something just isnt right

The models obviously consider historical and climo inputs into the mix of information.
Unfortunately, with the Climate being what it is these days, we are in brand new territory.
There is plenty peculiar weather (known these days as 'historical') and this is because of changes to climate norms.

We have never been here before.
Makes forecasting more vague, at best.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


I posted this yesterday but the GFS has been trending west each run with that storm..when it initially started showing the storm it was almost curving almost east of bermuda and look where it has it now..
dont forgot GFS anything 7 days out steering can change. it develops the storm too far north so wait until we get a td out of the wave :)
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102
3509. ncstorm
Quoting jascott1967:


Eh...16 days out...lol


this starts 144 hours out

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3508. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
florence is falling apart also
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3506. Grothar
Anyone having trouble with the CIMSS link? Images are not updating at all.

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3505. zawxdsk
Quoting lottotexas:
GFS hasn't done a poor job this year.


And the ECMWF has done just fine on Ernesto, too. It never really wanted to develop him. And it appears that Ernesto has had some inherent weaknesses anyway.
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GFS has been showing a S Texas to Mex landfall on Ernesto since Thursday and some earlier runs also had Mex as a target. Also did very well on Debby.
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No matter how strong he is steering says mexico/campeche bound.
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3502. ncstorm
Quoting floridaboy14:
why not? its recurving out to sea


I posted this yesterday but the GFS has been trending west each run with that storm..when it initially started showing the storm it was almost curving almost east of bermuda and look where it has it now..
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Quoting ncstorm:
this is not comforting at ALL!!



Eh...16 days out...lol
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3500. guygee
Quoting SkulDouggery:
There are no "massive concrete jungles" in Oklahoma -
Well you got OSU...
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Quoting floridaboy14:
Notice the LLC is exposed but is moving wnw and if he intensifies it could mean a more northerly track

yes I agree hey look on sat you noticed that convection is now poping on the NE side of the circulation at 15.7N 75.9W
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3498. ncstorm
Quoting LargoFl:
..well seeing how poor a job the models have done so far..I would not worry until i see the storm actually there..something is off this year,cant put my finger on it but something just isnt right


thats every hurricane season..some will perform good and some wont but eventually all models come around to the same idea..eventually...
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3497. barbamz


I think the wave of Ernesto is about to be splitted to a northern and a southern moving part.

anim
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Quoting LargoFl:
..well seeing how poor a job the models have done so far..I would not worry until i see the storm actually there..something is off this year,cant put my finger on it but something just isnt right


Actually some of the main reasons Ernesto has struggled have been present in the last two years. Dry air and below climo vertical instability. Ernesto is working without the MJO as well so the synoptic pattern is really not all that conducive at this time in the Caribbean other than high TCHP.

If a storm cannot organise it cannot take advantage of the high heat content to ramp up.
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Quoting LargoFl:
..well seeing how poor a job the models have done so far..I would not worry until i see the storm actually there..something is off this year,cant put my finger on it but something just isnt right
I agree
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 663

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