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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ernesto the little train that could I think I can,I think I can, I know I can
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Ernesto rising from the dead?
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Shouldn't be much to happen with Ernesto at its peak other than some heavy downpours,what is doing now rain wyse would have been great for texas and there drought situation.
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


Short term following the GFDL...

I think Ernesto will track like the GFDL but more N and E of it
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Quoting cg2916:
Is Ernesto closed? Strengthening, weakening neutral?


None of the above
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Homestead, florida
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Quoting sar2401:


Does that include weakening and then dissipation? :)


no I don't think so
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Short term following the GFDL...
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.
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(click to enlarge)
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Watching Florence and hoping she exhibits "model" behavior...
so long as the model isn't the BAMM, yeah....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20730
Quoting AllStar17:
Don't be surprised if Ernesto have more tricks up his sleeve.


Does that include weakening and then dissipation? :)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 9828
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Very Bertha-ish trackwise.
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Quoting tkdaime:
What is the latest on tropical storm Florence
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM FLORENCE ADVISORY NUMBER 8
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL062012
500 PM AST SUN AUG 05 2012

...FLORENCE WEAKENING...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...16.3N 36.7W
ABOUT 845 MI...1355 KM W OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 275 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1005 MB...29.68 INCHES



Welcome 2 the blog, btw.... where r u blogging from?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20730
Quoting cg2916:
Is Ernesto closed? Strengthening, weakening neutral?

Strengthening
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Is Ernesto closed? Strengthening, weakening, neutral?
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Quoting stormpetrol:
One thing I noticed it was breezy here in Grand cayman most of the day, and now it's not a bit of wind whatsoever!

origanily I think that we were get wind from the high in the atlantic and the wind has cut down cause it has changed to the winds from the storm it simpley mean "calm before the storm"
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Watching Florence and hoping she exhibits "model" behavior...
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Complete overcast here all day today (unusual) but no rain.
it was sunny here unti a short while ago... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20730
What is the latest on tropical storm Florence
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


I happened to be working at the NHC during that storm (I am interning there this summer). The forecasters had many hours of discussions regarding Debby, it wasn't for lack of trying.


Tell us true: how prevalent was the dual COCs discussion? Seriously. Debby was the Parting of the Red Sea when it comes to model initialization. What points of argument were most divergent?
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Wow, Ernesto is still trying to get stronger...
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One thing I noticed it was breezy here in Grand cayman most of the day, and now it's not a bit of wind whatsoever!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Now getting some tropical downpour of our own at 5:04... not sure this will last very long....

yep... done in about 4 minutes.... lol


Complete overcast here all day today (unusual) but no rain.
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Looks just about covered now!
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Quoting Levi32 and TA13:


Tell me about it.

On the other hand, we learn nothing from cookie-cutter storms. Now I have a passel to learn about trade winds due to Ernesto and Levi.
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


If you are interning at the NHC right now, then why aren't you busy getting coffee?


#1: Its my day off.
#2: With this amount of activity? Not coffee, its more like 5 hour energy ever 2 hours. Especially during the night shifts.
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Well, if Ernesto wants to defy the odds one more time, he might as well pull a Wilma now. That would make my eyes not want to be in their sockets anymore.

Joking aside, his satellite appearance is markedly improving with each frame. See what a little slowing down to catch your breath can do?
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Now getting some tropical downpour of our own at 5:04... not sure this will last very long....

yep... done in about 4 minutes.... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20730
Quoting stormpetrol:
Probably will move 25-30 miles north of the forecast point too.


I agree.
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


I happened to be working at the NHC during that storm (I am interning there this summer). The forecasters had many hours of discussions regarding Debby, it wasn't for lack of trying. It was just a case where mother nature just outsmarted the forecasters (that happens most of the time which is why they are called forecasters lol).


If you are interning at the NHC right now, then why aren't you busy getting coffee?
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Next waves from Africa... Big one on the Indian Ocean...

Waves form over the Ethiopian highlands in Africa, not the Indian Ocean.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Good! After hard-headed Debby, every other storm this season needs to be well-behaved.


I happened to be working at the NHC during that storm (I am interning there this summer). The forecasters had many hours of discussions regarding Debby, it wasn't for lack of trying. It was just a case where mother nature just outsmarted the forecasters (that happens most of the time which is why they are called forecasters lol).
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Quoting ncstorm:
The 12z CMC has Florence well off the CONUS..



The CMC?!
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Don't be surprised if Ernesto have more tricks up his sleeve.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
I think Ernesto is actually moving a bit slower than 20 mph now, probably 17 0r18 mph imo, also looks like a gradually WNW movement has begun too!

you know you may be right

Quoting stormpetrol:
Probably will move 25-30 miles north of the forecast point too.

yep if it continues expect a cone shift N and E
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So NHC doesnt have todays plan of the day up, is recon still supposed to take off at 6?
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Well notice I didn't put any specific numbers in my post lol

But 5 is certainly a possibility considering we've already had two and models are in good agreement that the MJO will be coming back


Looks like the GEFS doesn't want it to leave. After it enters Octant 2 it curves back towards Octant 1, lol.
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The 12z CMC has Florence well off the CONUS..

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Great post. My forecast of 5 named storms this month isn't looking too far off now, is it? :P
Well notice I didn't put any specific numbers in my post lol

But 5 is certainly a possibility considering we've already had two and models are in good agreement that the MJO will be coming back

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Quoting wxchaser97:
This time might be different, he is in a more user friendly environment.


LOL - "user friendly"
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Quoting Levi32:


Tell me about it.


Hey, Levi! Do you think Ernesto will be able to develop a good mid level circulation? Or will we see the same old deceptive on satellite Ernesto again?
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August 2, 2012:

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Quoting stormpetrol:
Ernesto can sure take punch! He's on his way back big time!

I think Ernesto wiil start moving WNW very very very soon and will be moving slower as well
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Good! After hard-headed Debby, every other storm this season needs to be well-behaved.


Tell me about it.
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Probably will move 25-30 miles north of the forecast point too.
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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.