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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He's giving us the ugly look...meaning he's ready to blossom
Member Since: June 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
A near hurricane for the first landfall on the Yucatan, and then a mid-grade Category 1 hurricane for the second landfall north of Tampico, Mexico.
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I love banning the original post, but leaving the replies that quote.....

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21864
About time!! Its pouring here finally!
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Ernesto is putting on the brakes. It will take a few more NHC advisories to catch up. Conditions are favorable for more developement. He is going to put on more than a fire ball show this time!
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Quoting Doppler22:
oh my.... Dark as can b here in S. PA.... Battening down the hatches!
Stay safe up there!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21864
Tenacious "E"


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
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Quoting dogsgomoo:
Huh. Came on to see if Ernesto is still puttering along. If he slows down and keeps firing over that coc he might be able to restrengthen enough to shift the track a back a bit more north, keeping him away from land long enough to do a Bonnie (TS 2004).

I don't understand the wind dynamics to be able to guess if that is possible in this case though. He just really seems to be moving too fast for that to be likely. Is it still ~20 or has he slowed down a bit?


He must have slowed a bit, because he looks to be pulling off a comeback rather quickly in spite of himself. I just think it still doesn't look like it's a quick turnaround because he was THAT disorganized before. He looks much better now, and may yet just surprise us.
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...FLORENCE WEAKENING...
5:00 PM AST Sun Aug 5
Location: 16.3°N 36.7°W
Moving: W at 14 mph
Min pressure: 1005 mb
Max sustained: 50 mph

...ERNESTO MOVING A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY TOWARD THE WEST...
5:00 PM EDT Sun Aug 5
Location: 15.3°N 78.6°W
Moving: W at 20 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb
Max sustained: 50 mph
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BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM ERNESTO ADVISORY NUMBER 17
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL052012
500 PM EDT SUN AUG 05 2012

...ERNESTO MOVING A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY TOWARD THE WEST...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM EDT...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...15.3N 78.6W
ABOUT 220 MI...355 KM SSW OF KINGSTON JAMAICA
ABOUT 305 MI...495 KM E OF CABO GRACIAS A DIOS ON NIC/HON BORDER
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 280 DEGREES AT 20 MPH...32 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1006 MB...29.71 INCHES
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Giant sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana prompts state of emergency declaration
Posted on August 5, 2012
August 5, 2012 – LOUISIANA – For more than two months, officials from federal to local have been unable to pin down the source of a natural gas leak and tremors in assumption parish. But on Thursday a 200 by 200 foot “slurry area” has appeared in bayou corne in northern assumption parish…The formation of the slurry area was accompanied by a diesel-like odor that some residents said burned their eyes and noses but dissipated by midmorning Friday…Assumption parish officials declared an emergency and called for an evacuation of residents living near the nearly 1-acre muddy site. A potential failure of a cavern operated by Texas brine company may have caused the slurry area, or sinkhole, which swallowed full-grown trees and denuded a formerly forested patch of cypress swamp. Final determination of a positive link between the failure of the cavern and either the natural gas bubbling or the slurry area has not been made. In response, gov. bobby jindal declared an emergency Friday. –KLFY

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9780
Quoting DataNerd:
Been pouring rain all day here in Texas.

You forgot the GALVESTON TX part. I'm frying bacon and eggs on my truck hood in centex. My truck's down for just about anything :)
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565. Skyepony (Mod)
Mild storm scared cursing at Lollapalooza..

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The firing of Ernestos convection is not only in the S anymore.
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562. txjac
Quoting DataNerd:
Been pouring rain all day here in Texas.


Not for me ...just got about a half hour shower earlier today ...would love some more
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561. Skyepony (Mod)
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Huh. Came on to see if Ernesto is still puttering along. If he slows down and keeps firing over that coc he might be able to restrengthen enough to shift the track a back a bit more north, keeping him away from land long enough to do a Bonnie (TS 2004).

I don't understand the wind dynamics to be able to guess if that is possible in this case though. He just really seems to be moving too fast for that to be likely. Is it still ~20 or has he slowed down a bit?
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Well i've been lurking the past few days with all the craziness on the blog, but figured i'd give my two cents now that it's slowed down.

Don't write off Ernesto for those who are. As he slows down and consolidates he's still got a good shot of some strengthening before landfall. He is not going to make it very far north at this point however.
Regardless of the fate of Ernesto we should still have an interesting few weeks in the tropics. The remnants of Florence will have to be watched once she is declassified, and the GFS is showing Gordon developing off Africa which should head pretty far west with the strong ridge in place. Far out yes, but the pattern is right with Florence possibly paving the way for more favorable conditions.

Wpac should also continue to light up the next few weeks as yet another Typhoon is forecast to impact the China coastline south of Shanghai, and models show several more storms developing.

This is Haiku, which has basically stalled NW of Okinawa the past few hours and continues to strengthen.
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Quoting weatherguy03:
A slight glimmer of hope for the life of Ernesto is the increase of convection off to the South of its COC this afternoon. The atmosphere could be moistening up a bit. Still moving pretty quickly West. And if it stays weak its just gonna run into Central America and the point will be mute.
It looks to be putting its toe on the brakes. I think it will gain enough lattitude for the COC to miss Central America.
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NASCAR race may be called early due to severe thunderstorms/rain approaching.
WU radar/warning statement
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9780
MJO returning soon.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23863
Been pouring rain all day here in Texas.
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Quoting spathy:


Doing my best to send it your way :O)
Thank you very much :)
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Some influence of el nino will be present this season but i don't know until what point Will affect at least the fromation of TS i'm not seeing other month like july specialy with the mjo coming, and this is other sign for me el nino will not take place in the remainder of august and early september. But i' don't know what will happen the second half of september



Member Since: June 20, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2153
I say by the time Ernesto at 79.5/80W he would be moving WNW at a slower rate with convectin blowing up on to of the LLCOC also covection is building up alot around the storm more so on the NE quad indicative of a strenghtening system
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548. JLPR2
Quoting weatherguy03:
A slight glimmer of hope for the life of Ernesto is the increase of convection off to the South of its COC this afternoon. The atmosphere could be moistening up a bit. Still moving pretty quickly West. And if it stays weak its just gonna run into Central America and the point will be mute.


The fact that it cleared South America might be helping it as it is not longer pulling in dry continental air.
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Ernesto is going to pass to the north of the next forecast point.
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Quoting txjac:


Watching it closely myself ...my daughter is in Guatemala doing charity work with her college honor society.


txjac,
Best wishes / safety for your daughter, her colleagues and all folks in Cen AM... regardless of Erny's intensity, we know it'll drag a ton of rain over the region capable of torrential downpours, concerns for flash flooding / mudslides and I'm certain the NHC will highlight the threat... Hope the model guidance of it continuing to move, not stall, will minimize that aspect some.
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I know I am a new contributor to the blog, but I have been an on-looker long enough to know that politics and anything non weather related does not belong here. Please, despite the current situation in the United States, keep your entries weather related. Thank You.
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oh my.... Dark as can b here in S. PA.... Battening down the hatches!
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Convection slowly going over the coc, it's not over let.
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#527- Woo Hoo my turn in Cape Coral
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Trade winds like Levi said....too bad would have been nice to get a healthy day of rain
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539. yoboi
ernesto looks like it's trying to fire up a little bit.
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2334
Next waves from Africa... Big one on the Indian Ocean...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9780
Ernesto is going to be a Yucatan and Mexico event with at least Cat 1 winds. IMO
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Quoting Twinkster:


It is interesting that GFS is only model seeing this, however, GFS was the only model that saw Ernesto developing and then weakening to its current state, only model that stuck to Debby heading east/NE the entire time. GFS has by far been the best model this year.

It almost makes me wonder if the GFS has 'come up for air' points where new hard dynamics can be fed it manually instead of having to figure everything out itself, like most code does. That would be a good thing.
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Ernesto is going to take over Chris in ACE soon.
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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.

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