Ernesto closing in on the Yucatan

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:19 PM GMT on August 07, 2012

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Tropical Storm Ernesto is closing in on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Latest data from the Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm found the pressure had dropped to its lowest value yet--988 mb at 9:12 am EDT. Top surface winds as seen by their SFMR instrument were in the 60 - 65 mph range, and the plane found 72 mph winds at their flight level of 5,000 feet, on the northeast side of the eye. Ernesto does not have an eyewall, but the Hurricane Hunters noted an eyewall may be the process of forming, from the north to the south-southeast side of the center. Visible and infrared satellite loops show that Ernesto's heavy thunderstorms have expanded in areal extent and intensity to form a Central Dense Overcast (CDO), a feature of intensifying tropical storms. Ernesto is encountering light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots. The dry air that mixed into Ernesto's core and disrupted it on Monday is no longer apparent on water vapor satellite loops.

Winds at the Yucatan Basin buoy, about 140 miles north of the 10 am EDT position of Ernesto, were sustained at 34 mph, gusting to 40 mph, at 10 am EDT. Winds along the north coast of Honduras have been light the past day, and a personal weather station on Roatan Island off the north coast of Honduras picked up 1.51" of rain from Ernesto as of 10 am EDT. Sporadic heavy rains from Ernesto's outer spiral bands have affected Belize City, Belize most of the morning; these bands can be seen on Belize radar.


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image from NASA's Terra satellite of Tropical Sotrm Ernesto, taken at 11:35 am EDT August 6, 2012. At the time, Ernesto had top winds of 65 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Forecast for Ernesto
Ernesto does not have an eyewall, and this will severely limit the storm's chances of rapid intensification until the storm can build one. However, Ernesto is under light wind shear and over warm ocean waters of 29°C with very high heat content, so some modest intensification to a Category 1 hurricane is possible before landfall occurs near midnight tonight near the Belize/Mexico border. Heavy rains will be the main threat from Ernesto. The storm will take about a day to cross the Yucatan, and its winds will probably diminish by 15 - 25 mph. Once Ernesto re-emerges over water into the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico, wind shear will be light and ocean waters warm with high heat content. I expect Ernesto will increase its winds by 15 - 25 mph while over the Bay of Campeche, and the storm could be near Category 1 hurricane strength when it makes a second landfall near Veracruz, Mexico.

Crossing the Yucatan: a history
Hurricanes and tropical storms regularly cross Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and enter the Bay of Campeche, the Gulf of Mexico's southernmost region. Since the crossing usually takes less than a day and the peninsula is surrounded by warm ocean water that can help feed the storm during the crossing, the great majority of storms survive the trek. Once in the Bay of Campeche, most storms regenerate, even though there is not much room for the storm to go before a second landfall in Mexico occurs. This is because the curved shape of the mountain-lined coast helps boost counter-clockwise spin of the air, and the waters in the bay are among the warmest in the North Atlantic. Typically, a storm that crosses the Yucatan with a mostly westward track and enters the Bay of Campeche will intensify by 15 - 25 mph before making a second landfall in Mexico. Let's consider two historical analogue case for what might happen to Ernesto.


Figure 2. Track of Hurricane Karl of 2010.


Figure 3. Tracks of all major hurricanes since 1851 near Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Karl was the most southerly major hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

Hurricane Karl of 2010
Hurricane Karl of 2010 hit the Yucatan near the Belize/Mexican border as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Karl took 18 hours to cross the Yucatan, and weakened to a 45 mph tropical storm during the crossing. Remarkably, though, conventional and microwave satellite imagery indicated that the storm’s organization and vertical structure improved during the crossing, with the appearance of an eye-like feature and an increase in low-level spiral bands. This probably occurred as a result of frictional convergence--when air flowing over the smooth ocean surface moves over land, the increased friction causes the air to slow down and flow at a sharper angle towards a center of low pressure. Once the storm reached the Bay of Campeche, Karl took advantage of low wind shear, ocean temperatures of 29 - 30°C, and a moist atmosphere, to put on an impressive show of rapid intensification. Karl took only 12 hours to regain its strength, and within 36 hours of exiting the Yucatan, had intensified to a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. This sort of intensification so far south in the Bay of Campeche was unprecedented, and Karl was the strongest major hurricane ever observed so far south in the Gulf of Mexico. Karl dumped 10 -15 inches of rain over most of the northwestern half of the state of Veracruz, triggering floods that killed 22 and did $400 million in damage.


Figure 4. Track of Tropical Storm Hermine of 1980.

Tropical Storm Hermine of 1980
A more likely historical analogue storm for Ernesto may be Tropical Storm Hermine of 1980. Hermine hit the Yucatan near the border between Belize and Mexico with 70 mph winds. The 24-hour crossing of the Yucatan weakened Hermine's winds to 50 mph. After emerging into the Bay of Campeche, Hermine turned to the west-southwest and made landfall southeast of Veracruz 30 hours later, with top winds of 70 mph.

Other storms of the past 30 years with a similar landfall location to Ernesto's
Hurricane Dean of 2007 hit the Yucatan near the Belize/Mexican border as a large Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds. Dean took 10 hours to cross the Yucatan, and weakened to a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane during the crossing. Upon reaching the Bay of Campeche, Dean strengthened by 25 mph to a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds, before its second landfall occurred.

Hurricane Keith (2000)
Hurricane Dolly (1996)
Hurricane Diana (1990)

92L
A tropical wave in the far Eastern Atlantic (Invest 92L) is disorganized, with limited heavy thunderstorm activity and a modest amount of spin at mid-levels of the atmosphere. Of the six main models used operationally by NHC, only one--the HWRF--develops 92L. The storm is at least 6 days from the Lesser Antilles Islands, if it maintains a westward motion.


Figure 5. NOAA-19 AVHRR image of the big low pressure system in the Arctic, taken at 9 am EDT August 7, 2012. At the time, the GFS analysis gave a central pressure of 970 mb for the low. Image credit: NOAA and Environment Canada. Thanks go to wunderblogger Grothar for pointing out this image to me.

Big storm in the Arctic
A remarkably intense low pressure system formed in the Arctic north of Alaska Monday, bottoming out with a central pressure of 963 mb at 2 pm EDT. A pressure this low is rare any time of the year in the Arctic, and is exceptionally so in summer. The storm is stacked vertically with the upper-level low, and will spin in place and slowly weaken over the next few days, but remain unusually strong. Strong winds behind the low's cold front caused a 1.3' storm surge Monday in Prudhoe Bay, on Alaska's north shore. As noted in Neven Acropolis' sea ice blog, the strong winds around this low have the potential to cause a large loss of Arctic sea ice, due to churning, increased wave action, pushing of ice into warmer waters, and the mixing up of warmer waters from beneath the ice. According to the latest analysis from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice extent was at a record low extent as of August 1. This week's big storm will likely keep Arctic sea ice at record low levels for the next week or two.

Angela Fritz will have an update on Ernesto late this afternoon or early this evening.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting ILwthrfan:


I see one of the BAMD models have a vintage Andrew track there.

That's actually the medium-depth BAM models. BAMD (the deep-layer one) dives WAY south.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5903




GFS ensemble models.

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Quoting ILwthrfan:


It would have to dive southwest after a second Mexico landfall to have ANY chance at all re-emerging intact into the Pacific. More than likely I would think the mountains of Mexico would give him a very quick death.


Enjoy your cool down in couple of days as you guys deserve it! First really big push in about 2 months of cool air. Infact this cool air may sneek all the way down into GA and parts of the Carolina's this weekend. However the front should stall in FL while really enhancing the rain chances. Could be some flooding issues across FL this weekend as it looks extremely wet even for the east coast of FL as the flow will be from the SSW.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
ERnesto would have to basically move almost due west now to follow the official track!

I know if this storm pulls any further N it may skirt the Yucatan aand end up in the West-Central GOM
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Ernesto is already one degree East of the next forecast point!

Link
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
For what it's worth. Long living, well defined LLC's can eventually stumble upon better conditions.



I see one of the BAMD models have a vintage Andrew track there.
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Link


Looks like quite a weakness between the highs to its north.
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Ships takes 92l to 70 mph+ @ 120hrs.
Really active-need an Artic storm in the tropics.
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ERnesto would have to basically move almost due west now to follow the official track!
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


It would have to dive southwest after a second Mexico landfall to have ANY chance at all re-emerging intact into the Pacific. More than likely I would think the mountains of Mexico would give him a very quick death.
True...Nothing would surprise me now however.
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For what it's worth. Long living, well defined LLC's can eventually stumble upon better conditions.



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Florence really wants her name back.
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Quoting hydrus:
The GFS has Ernesto crossing mainland Mexico into the Eastern Pacific and reforming.


It would have to dive southwest after a second Mexico landfall to have ANY chance at all re-emerging intact into the Pacific. More than likely I would think the mountains of Mexico would give him a very quick death.
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ex-flo.is.moving.into.the.picture.quickly
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
If Ernesto keeps his current heading he will.



Yellow line show landfall & track with current heading of 311.



from the looks of this, Ernie want be over land very long it he just hits the tip of the Yucatan. But isn't there something in the GOM Blocking anything from making it through there?

Sheri
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Quoting JeffMasters:


Yes. The storm is stacked vertically with the upper-level low, and will spin in place and slowly weaken over the next few days.

Jeff Masters


Thanks.
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Quoting hydrus:
The GFS has Ernesto crossing mainland Mexico into the Eastern Pacific and reforming.

U sure thats Ernesto or it maybe Gilma?
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from a cancun weather blog..............................August 7th, 2012

TS Ernesto continues approaching to the south of the Yucatan Peninsula, it was located this morning at 250 miles (405 km) east of Belize city, there is a hurricane warning for the whole coast of Belize and in Mexico from Chetumal to Punta Allen and tropical storm warning from north Punta Allen to Cancun, Ernesto could become a category one hurricane before it lands tonight. In Cancun we are having a partly cloudy sky and scattered showers with short periods of sun, all the services in this area are operating normally
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Quoting Maineweatherguy20023:
Yesterday I learned how to make my own forecast cones and such but cant post them on here. Can someone please help me?


upload then onto a site like photobucket, instagram, etc.

the copy the url of that specific pic (.gif)

When writing your new comment click on the 'image' box and copy the url into in and voila.
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62. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting Grothar:
Doc, is this an image of the Arctic Storm?



Yes. The storm is stacked vertically with the upper-level low, and will spin in place and slowly weaken over the next few days.

Jeff Masters
Hello Gilma.... Is the E Pac above or below average??? Cause it seems as if it has been fairly quiet lately
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Jul 31 2012 GOES El Nino SST Color
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Yesterday I learned how to make my own forecast cones and such but cant post them on here. Can someone please help me?
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I had to laugh on Friday when some where saying Ernesto had an "Eyewall" when the storm only had 45mph winds at the time. Geesh!!

Forecast for Ernesto

Ernesto does not have an eyewall, and this will severely limit the storm's chances of rapid intensification until the storm can build one. However, Ernesto is under light wind shear and over warm ocean waters of 29C with very high heat content, so some modest intensification to a Category 1 hurricane is possible before landfall occurs near midnight tonight near the Belize/Mexico border. Heavy rains will be the main threat from Ernesto. The storm will take about a day to cross the Yucatan, and its winds will probably diminish by 15 - 25 mph. once Ernesto re-emerges over water into the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico, wind shear will be light and ocean waters warm with high heat content. I expect Ernesto will increase its winds by 15 - 25 mph while over the Bay of Campeche, and the storm could be near Category 1 hurricane strength when it makes a second landfall near Veracruz, Mexico.

Crow anybody? I've had mine already from the 91L bust.

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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 183 Comments: 57270
Quoting hydrus:
The GFS has Ernesto crossing mainland Mexico into the Eastern Pacific and reforming.
definitely a good possibility
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92L and dry air.

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Quoting Coastalgramps:
Should I call my brother in Belieze and warn him? He is an expatriate that lives outside the city and rarely listens to the news.


iam sure he knows somethings happening
all he has to do is look up

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 183 Comments: 57270
The GFS has Ernesto crossing mainland Mexico into the Eastern Pacific and reforming.
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I think I can, I think I can
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Quoting Coastalgramps:
Should I call my brother in Belieze and warn him? He is an expatriate that lives outside the city and rarely listens to the news.


It certainly would not do any harm to call him - only went through 1 Hurricane during my time in Belize (Brit Air Force) - Hurricane Great in (I think) Sep 78.
The major flooding in a separate incident was actually worse for the country.
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Thanks Doc!

This Ernesto is really turning out to be quite a teaser of a storm. Every time you think it's dead, it comes back, and evry time it looks ready to rock, it fizzles. We'll see if the trend continues...
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Thank you Dr. Masters
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Ernesto wants to put on a show for us. The northern banding has exploded in the last few frames. Expanding CDO as well.

..notice some of the outflow is just about hitting cancun
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Quoting portoraweathernut:
thanks largo, i always enjoy your maps that u post
ditto
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LinkWVLoop

Ernesto drama continues...Flooding likely across the Yucatan. A couple degrees longitude can make a big difference once the storm emerges into GOM as we see in Doc's blog.
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Doc, is this an image of the Arctic Storm?

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So what happens if this keeps on its current path and exits the Yucatan between Fauna Costera and Palapa on the north side? It has been going this direction for almost 36 hrs now And doesn't show any signs of slowing are changing. I am not saying that it will but just asking what would happen if it were to do so?
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Aimed really at the "Cayman Folks" in here - but any other inputs appreciated.

It somewhat of a "post mortem" - "lessons learned" question

"Do you think that CI Government were right to drop the TS Watch when they did?"
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
from last blog


its moving like Ernesto when ernesto was 99L invest and I noticed models have shifted Swards and Wwards

00Z


06Z


12Z


also the funny thing is that Ernesto-EX-99L's models origanaly had it going N or the NE Carib islands

well 92L could be Renesto part 2 in the next week or two


Right now only one model develops it, (HWRF). So I'd say no.
BTW, kudos to Levi for his original tidbit on Ernesto. He pretty much had the track and strength pegged.
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Ernesto wants to put on a show for us. The northern banding has exploded in the last few frames. Expanding CDO as well.

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Quoting LargoFl:
..ex florence is a fish storm, the other we need to watch in my view
thanks largo, i always enjoy your maps that u post
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Quoting hydrus:
I wonder if some people realize how fortunate we are with Ernesto. A little change in the weather map would put a devastating storm in the gulf.
..yes and it would be a BIG one huh, not taking my eyes off him til he is in the pacific..notice some of the models push him south in mexico..could he make a turn later and go back into the caribbean?
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...........ex florence
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Quoting LargoFl:
gee if it takes a big jog to the north its in the gulf..everything says it wont..but
I wonder if some people realize how fortunate we are with Ernesto. A little change in the weather map would put a devastating storm in the gulf.
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Thanks Dr. Masters. Well written.
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Quoting portoraweathernut:
hey everyone, long time lurker, very rarely post just wanted to get everyones view on former florence and 92l for long range with massive high pressure building above both of these.
..ex florence is a fish storm, the other we need to watch in my view
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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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