Ernesto disorganized; more fires, extreme heat for Oklahoma

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:25 PM GMT on August 05, 2012

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A disorganized Tropical Storm Ernesto continues to speed westward at 23 mph across the Caribbean. Ernesto has brought sporadic heavy rains to Jamaica today, and Kingston has picked up 0.51" of rain as of noon, and recorded top sustained winds of 22 mph. Ernesto looks very unhealthy on visible satellite loops, with its low-level circulation center a naked swirl exposed to view with almost no heavy thunderstorm activity near the center. However, the storm does have some rather far-flung spiral bands, and these bands are bringing occasional heavy downpours to Haiti, western Cuba, Jamaica, and the southwest Dominican Republic. This morning's flight by the Hurricane Hunters found that Ernesto had a very high central pressure of 1006 mb and top winds near 50 mph. The latest wind shear analysis from the SHIPS model shows moderate shear of 10 - 15 knots affecting the storm, but there must be some wind shear the satellites are not able to detect affecting Ernesto, given its disorganized appearance. Water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the west, and this dry air is also interfering with Ernesto's organization.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image with 375 meter resolution taken of Ernesto by the new Suomi NPP satellite at 1:39 pm EDT August 4, 2012. At the time, Ernesto had a flare-up of intense thunderstorms, and had top winds of 60 mph. Image credit: University of Wisconsin Madison CIMSS.

Forecast for Ernesto
Ernesto's rapid forward speed of 23 mph has been part of the reason for its lack of intensification, but the storm is expected to slow down Monday and Tuesday in response to a trough of low pressure passing to the north. This slowing, in combination with low wind shear, a moister environment, and increasing heat energy in the ocean, may allow Ernesto to strengthen some before making landfall in Belize or Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday night. However, the storm will be passing very close to the north coast of Honduras, putting a portion of its circulation over land and limiting intensification potential. It is unlikely Ernesto will become a hurricane in the Caribbean; NHC is giving just a 19% chance that this will occur. The main threat from Ernesto will be heavy rains over Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and Jamaica. The track forecast for Ernesto has become a bit easier, since the storm's current disorganization and more southerly path make will make it more difficult for the storm to make a northwesterly turn into the Gulf of Mexico like the UKMET and GFDL models are predicting. A stronger Ernesto would have been more likely to turn northwest under the influence of a trough of low pressure passing to the north. If Ernesto survives its crossing of the Yucatan Peninsula, the potential exists for it to re-strengthen over the Bay of Campeche, and make a second landfall on Mexico's coast on Friday, between Tampico and Veracruz. It's pretty unlikely that Ernesto will hit the U.S.-- though Brownsville, Texas could see some rain from Ernesto's outer spiral bands on Friday, if the storm survives that long.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Ernesto, showing the exposed low-level center--a swirl due south of Jamaica--and only very limited heavy thunderstorm activity surrounding the center.

Tropical Storm Florence
Tropical Storm Florence continues to plow westward at 14 mph over the Eastern Atlantic, and is not a threat to any land areas for next five days. The SHIPS model is predicting a moderate 5 - 15 knots of wind shear for Florence Sunday and Monday, but the shear will increase to the high range as Florence encounters an upper-level trough of low pressure on Tuesday. 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. It is possible that Florence could pose a threat to Bermuda next weekend, if the storm survives that long. Both the GFS and ECMWF models dissipate Florence before then.

Historic heat wave in Oklahoma
A second day of destructive fires affected Oklahoma on Saturday, thanks to extreme heat and drought, low humidities, and strong winds in advance of an approaching cold front. At 3 pm CDT Saturday, Oklahoma City had a temperature of 107°, a humidity of 19%, and winds of 16 mph gusting to 22 mph. The Oklahoma fires have destroyed at least 125 homes. The high temperature in Oklahoma City on Saturday reached 109°, the 12th warmest temperature recorded in the city since records began in 1891. Friday's high of 113° tied for the warmest temperature in city history.


Figure 3. Highway 48 is covered in smoke as flames continue, Saturday, Aug 4, 2012, east of Drumright, OK. Image credit: Associated Press.

The only comparable Oklahoma heat wave: August 1936
The only heat wave in Oklahoma history that compares to the August 2012 heat wave occurred during 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 18 consecutive days (so far) with temperatures of 100° or hotter. The weak cold front that passed though Oklahoma Saturday will bring temperatures about 10° cooler over the next few days, but high temperatures are still expected to approach 100° in Oklahoma City Sunday through Tuesday. 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 in 2012, and three in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a new post on July's heat extremes in the U.S.


Figure 4. Most of Oklahoma has experienced nine consecutive days with highs of 100° or more, and many regions, including Oklahoma City, have had a streak of eighteen such days. Image credit: Oklahoma Mesonet.

Severe thunderstorm complex forces evacuation of Lollapalooza
A organized complex of severe thunderstorms developed over Eastern Iowa and Northern Illinois late Saturday afternoon, forming a dangerous bow echo that swept through Chicago, forcing the evacuation of the Lollapalooza music festival. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged over 150 reports of wind damage from the storm, with five of the thunderstorms containing winds in excess of hurricane force (74 mph.) And just yesterday, my daughter was bemoaning her misfortune at not being able to get tickets to the show! The thunderstorm complex traveled about 300 miles from Eastern Iowa to Ohio, generating winds gust in excess of 58 mph along most of its path, meeting the definition of a derecho.


Figure 5. Radar image of the severe thunderstorm complex that spawned a dangerous bow echo over Chicago, which forced the evacuation of the Lollapalooza music festival.

Jeff Masters

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM (nanamac)
Storm clouds overwhelming Chicago
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM (nanamac)
Sheets of rain & darkness!
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
()
Storm damage (Bubbly)
Straight line winds during a severe thunderstorm left crumpled metal and splintered wood behind in Frytown, Iowa
Storm damage

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Quoting Levi32:
77-kt flight level wind reported, and the straight pass through instead of the loop last time reveals an extremely small center with a markedly steep pressure gradient, which, to be realistic, is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye.



Technically moving north.....is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye. You're start a frenzy in here with language like that. LOL
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I would like to know who was wishcasting for Ernesto to come to the U.S anyway?.From what I've seen people were discussing it as a possibility.


When someone posts a particular model run that showed Ernesto (or any storm, real or model created or just plain imagined, heading for a CONUS landfall) in the GOMEX as a strong hurricane with the verbiage, complete with any number of explanation points "WOW!!!" what is one to think?

When I start seeing NHC statements doing that type of thing I will start seeing those people/posts as sensible and nonbiased...or the NHC has lost all credibility, the later more likely.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 600
2381. Levi32
994mb from dropsonde 12kt winds.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


You...said...that.

Said what... Pin-hole eye???
I said that earlier. lol
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Quoting Levi32:


I can't imagine how they cannot update the intensity for the interests in Honduras, Roatan, and the Yucatan.

Is it reasonable to assume the delay in an advisory is a combination of them waiting for confirmation (which they just got), and also coordinating with Honduras to issue Hurricane warnings?
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Quoting jeffs713:

No, that is a cold cloud top. Likely part of an overshooting top, aka a "hot tower".


ok, thanks...I be learnin...need to..thing is coming my way big time...just about ready to go and stock up on rum
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2376. Levi32
Quoting jeffs713:

Isn't it like 4:30am over there, Levi?


Yeah, have to be up this early to get a video out, which I have to record right now if I'm to get to work on time. Hate working on days like this.
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Quoting Levi32:
77-kt flight level wind reported, and the straight pass through instead of the loop last time reveals an extremely small center with a markedly steep pressure gradient, which, to be realistic, is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye.



*GULP*

ya...ya..ya sure ..about.. dat?
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2374. Levi32
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi,a special advisory very soon?


I can't imagine how they cannot update the intensity for the interests in Honduras, Roatan, and the Yucatan.
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88mph flight level winds would translate to about 70-75 on the surface. When lowest pressure was recorded, the winds died off significantly and then picked up again as expected for an eye. Ernesto is approaching hurricane status.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
Quoting Levi32:


Bizarre, but true for the moment. Such eyewalls can also collapse quite quickly. This one is in its embryonic stage where the storm isn't even a hurricane yet.
in other words, he is taking advantage of the environment and is trying to become a hurricane before slamming the yucatan correct?
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102
Quoting jiminceiba:


ain't that an eye?Link


no
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Quoting Levi32:
According to HDOBS, in the 1 hour and 20 minutes since the previous fix, Ernesto has moved 11 minutes westward and 10 minutes northward, or a heading of NW.

Isn't it like 4:30am over there, Levi?
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Quoting Levi32:


Bizarre, but true for the moment. Such eyewalls can also collapse quite quickly. This one is in its embryonic stage where the storm isn't even a hurricane yet.


Yeah, it make sense. Ernesto is a fairly small system anyway just from looking at satellite.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Recon does reveal a somewhat pinhole eye with Ernesto. Interesting, 6 miles is very small. Ernesto has a very tight core.

Which is dangerous because if it doesn't lose its eyewall, there is a chance it will undergo explosive intensification.
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Did someone say pinhole eye?.Now it could fall a part..or it could go the other way....here's to hoping it falls apart.
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As a note, Ernesto is splitting a border between TCHP in excess of 60, and very low TCHP off the coast of Honduras. If he pulls north, he stays in the higher TCHP. If he keeps moving towards Honduras, not so much.
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2365. Levi32
According to HDOBS, in the 1 hour and 20 minutes since the previous fix, Ernesto has moved 11 minutes westward and 10 minutes northward, or a heading of NW. Center still likely jumping around with no true representative heading yet.
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Time: 13:17:30Z
Coordinates: 15.75N 80.1833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 844.7 mb (~ 24.94 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,437 meters (~ 4,715 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 994.8 mb (~ 29.38 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 49° at 17 knots (From the NE at ~ 19.5 mph)
Air Temp: 20.6°C (~ 69.1°F)
Dew Pt: 15.3°C (~ 59.5°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 20 knots (~ 23.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 22 knots (~ 25.3 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
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I'm very impressed with what Ernesto is doing this morning. As soon as the surface flow stopped screaming westward, the storm was able to align itself and explode. Amazing how fast this stuff can happen.
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Levi,a special advisory very soon?
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Recon does reveal a somewhat pinhole eye with Ernesto. Interesting, 6 miles is very small. Ernesto has a very tight core.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
2359. Levi32
Quoting MississippiWx:


You...said...that.


Bizarre, but true for the moment. Such eyewalls can also collapse quite quickly. This one is in its embryonic stage where the storm isn't even a hurricane yet.
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Quoting jiminceiba:


ain't that an eye?Link

No, that is a cold cloud top. Likely part of an overshooting top, aka a "hot tower".
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2357. Levi32
Unflagged 62kt SFMR reading in the NW eyewall.

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Quoting Levi32:
77-kt flight level wind reported, and the straight pass through instead of the loop last time reveals an extremely small center with a markedly steep pressure gradient, which, to be realistic, is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye.



You...said...that.
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Quoting Levi32:
77-kt flight level wind reported, and the straight pass through instead of the loop last time reveals an extremely small center with a markedly steep pressure gradient, which, to be realistic, is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye.


Dang that is a tight pressure gradient.

Here goes the blog...

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Ok everyone now that I have checked in, I have to get down to the NHC. (I intern there). Luckily for me I got the day shift with this storm. I will try to give everyone some updates when I get down there.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
It would take an RI to like, Cat 4 to turn ernesto to the US....
Its possible but it would have to start with the clouds in the center imploding and an eye forming right about now....needless to say its most likely not happening.



ain't that an eye?Link
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Waterspout in Offatts Bayou on Galveston Yesterday AM

A waterspout moves across the north shore of Offatts Bayou in Galveston at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday.






Very cool to be so close to that. It looks more like a gustnado based on its size, though. (judging by the bench on the dock - which didn't move, it was maybe 40 feet in diameter)
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2350. Levi32
77-kt flight level wind reported, and the straight pass through instead of the loop last time reveals an extremely small center with a markedly steep pressure gradient, which, to be realistic, is consistent with the development of a pinhole eye.

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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


Despite the name being a "he" name I still call it a she. Just been a habit of mine. I do that with all storms. Lol
oh ok XD
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 3703
Waterspout in Offatts Bayou on Galveston Yesterday AM

A waterspout moves across the north shore of Offatts Bayou in Galveston at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday.





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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
Good rain on me 

If you zoom in a little more, you might be able to see your house on radar.
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2346. LargoFl
I think as soon as someone says the term "wishcasters"..all they want to do is start fights again in here..anyone who uses this term goes on ignore in my book from now on..peaceful posting plse,alot going on now..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33281
Quoting washingtonian115:
I would like to know who was wishcasting for Ernesto to come to the U.S anyway?.From what I've seen people were discussing it as a possibility.
the same thing that was a possibility so it was discuss not that anyone was wishcasting to go to the USA.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 3703
Quoting allancalderini:
He.


Despite the name being a "he" name I still call it a she. Just been a habit of mine. I do that with all storms. Lol
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It would take an RI to like, Cat 4 to turn ernesto to the US....
Its possible but it would have to start with the clouds in the center imploding and an eye forming right about now....needless to say its most likely not happening.

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Quoting Levi32:
12z BAM suite got in with the new coordinates found by recon. Change is to short-term track not long-term.

Levi, i know the GFS has been one crazy model with this storm but i think it nailed the track pretty well. This is now a belize and veracruz issue.
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102


First time we have really seen the storm do a decent job at getting vertically stacked.
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2340. LargoFl
Quoting washingtonian115:
I would like to know who was wishcasting for Ernesto to come to the U.S anyway?.From what I've seen people were discussing it as a possibility.
..exactly
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33281
I would like to know who was wishcasting for Ernesto to come to the U.S anyway?.From what I've seen people were discussing it as a possibility.
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The CMC
Ernesto at 108HR

A NEW Tropical Storm at 180HR!!
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


Wow! She was certainly busy last night. Thanks for the update.
He.
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2335. LargoFl
Quoting Jeff9645:
Ernesto is a Yucatan and Mexico storm now, sorry US wishcasters :)
yes we can get back to local bad weather soon
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33281
Quoting Tazmanian:
Ernesto been moveing N its now vary close too 16 N is not right on it

I wonder when he'll start to feel the weakness
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Quoting Tazmanian:



winds up too 55kt mb down too 994mb with a close eye wall


Wow! She was certainly busy last night. Thanks for the update.
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About JeffMasters

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