Haiti weakens Ernesto

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2006

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Ernesto is has been clobbering Hispanolia all morning with tropical storm force winds and torrential rains. But now, the island has bitten back. Ernesto is struggling to hold his eye together, thanks to the mountainous terrain on the southwestern peninsula of Haiti. The 1:10pm and 3pm EDT Hurricane Hunter eye reports found a surface pressure estimated at 1007 mb, a big increase from this morning's 995 mb. Moreover, the eye was substantially tilted, with the calm at the surface about 25 miles south of the calm at the 10,000 foot flight level. The plane could find maximum winds of only 35 mph during that 2-hour period, so Ernesto will probably be downgraded to a tropical storm with the 5pm advisory. The center of the storm is just south of some very mountainous terrain, and this is significantly disrupting Ernesto. The upper level outflow still looks strong, wind shear is weak, and an upper-level anticyclone (clockwise-rotating region of winds) is still in place, so Ernesto will no doubt reorganize tonight once he moves away from Haiti. However, given Ernesto's small size and the difficultly he is having with Hispanolia, there is hope that the expected 1-2 day traverse of Cuba will significantly weaken him. It may take Ernesto a day or two to regain hurricane strength once he emerges into the Florida Straits. This bodes well for the Florida Keys, which may dodge another hurricane. I think that only if Ernesto makes landfall north of Tampa will he have time to organize into a major hurricane.

The Keys evacuate
Monroe County emergency management is taking no chances, and has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all visitors and non-residents in the Florida Keys beginning at 1 pm this afternoon. A local state of emergency has been declared by Monroe County at noon today. All County and state Parks are encouraged to close this afternoon. At 10 am Monday, an evacuation for all mobile home residents will go in effect.


Figure 1. A view of the southwestern peninsula of Haiti, looking towards Cuba. Note the mountainous terrain and totally denuded of trees. Deforestation in Haiti has claimed over 99% of all the forests. The lack of forest cover to absorb Ernesto's torrential rains will cause deadly floods throughout southern Haiti today and Monday. Image credit: Google Earth.

The intensity forecast
There is no major change to the intensity forecast. As long as Ernesto is not interacting with Cuba or Hispanolia, he should strengthen. A low-shear environment with an upper-level anticyclone (clockwise rotating region of winds) has developed on top of the storm. These conditions are highly favorable for intensification. Ernesto is over waters of 30-31 C (86-88 F), and these waters warm up to nearly 90F in the narrow channel between Jamaica and Cuba. These warm waters extend to great depth, and the total heat content available to fuel rapid intensification is high. However, given the sharp decrease in intensity of Ernesto, thanks to its interaction with Hispanolia, I no longer expect Ernesto will have enough time to reorganize and attain Category 2 status for its Cuba landfall. Expect a Category 1 hurricane.

The track forecast
The 12Z (8am EDT) models are in, and continue to show Florida will get a double hit--first the Keys, then the main Peninsula. The GFDL model is the furthest west, favoring a hit in the Panhandle as a Category 3 hurricane. The GFS is the farthest east, calling for a hit on Key Largo as a tropical storm. The other models are in between. At this point, there is no reason to disqualify any of these model solutions as unreasonable. It still appears that New Orleans can breathe easy, as Ernesto should miss that city by a wide margin. However, residents of the U.S. southeast coast need to be prepared for tropical storm conditions if Ernesto crosses Florida and then re-intensifies off the Southeast coast. Several of the models indicate a track curving along the Southeast Coast just offshore, which may bring tropical storm conditions to Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Ernesto is not a threat to New England.

The storm surge forecast
Ernesto should not generate as high of storm surge in the Keys as Hurricane Wilma did last year. Storm surge heights should be four feet or less. Cuba will block the formation of the mound of storm surge water that Ernesto is piling up today and Monday, and the storm will have to generate a new mound of storm surge water once it crosses into the Florida Straits. North of the Keys, any hit along the west coast of Florida as a Category 2 or higher storm will generate a 10 foot or higher storm surge, due to the shallow waters extending out for a great distance from the coast.

Next update
The Hurricane Hunters will be in Ernesto until about 5pm EDT this afternoon. The next mission is at 8pm EDT tonight. The NOAA jet is scheduled to fly tonight as well, so we'll have our first set of higher-reliability model runs Monday morning. The NOAA P-3 gets its first action Monday morning, and will fly their SFMR instrument that measures surface winds over the entire area. I may have a short update tonight if there's a significant change to report, otherwise I'll see you in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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2110. coneOfdeath
6:58 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
ahhhhh,

I know what it is now, Doctor.
We are in ------------- the TWIlight zone.
That's right.

They have left those of us in the cone of death to our dishelved and rather untidy future. They are on another blog probably laughing it up over cocktails and catfish, sunning themselves and wishing we were there, or here, or . . . well, you get it.

I wonder what 5PM advisory will say?

The Western Atlantic visible loop looks rather interesting; some bands seem to be forming, or perhaps I have finally bumped over the edge and am now delusional.

Waiting is the hardest part, oh Tom Petty how true you are, the waiting . . .
2109. coneOfdeath
6:49 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Vent your ever enthusiastic diatribes of destruction - - -

we sound like a Hogwarts drop out trying to conjure up a spell!!

Latest Norcross - left, right, or down the centre - you're all going to croak

nah, just kidding

I know it isn't a 'laughing' matter per se, but to break up the monotony of impending doom and disaster from this deadly TD/TS/Could Be Cat 1-5, one has to lighten the load with some laughs . . . before power goes out and I start beeyaching!!!

Conie
:)
2108. dpryor1
6:09 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Come hither, oh great prognosticators of cyclonic projection! We of the lowly, uneducated masses need your input!
2107. dpryor1
5:55 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
I know what you mean. Evidently your advice was more invaluable than you knew...
2106. coneOfdeath
5:52 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
perhaps they all missed my message about the gas lines and now find themselves trapped in the labrynth, can't back up, can't go forward, sun pelting down, A/C conking out, bickering, ATM cards not going through, pumps running dry, a cat mangling its pacing master because they keep stepping on his tail while watching Norcross tell us all we're done for . . .

sorry - I am rambling

just waiting for the blog to heat up myself
2105. dpryor1
5:32 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Ok-,where is everyone? I have been a lurker for a few years now and really enjoy this site;you people are so entertaining- this is better than going to the circus! However, I have been refreshing my page for the last several minutes and there are no new posts. I can't believe you guys ran out of something to say...

Keep up the spirited 'sation!
2104. frostynugs
5:03 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
ernie sure hasn't moved much...
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
2103. coneOfdeath
5:02 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
PS

Norcross says we're all going to die.

Oh goodie.

lol
2102. coneOfdeath
4:58 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Update: Shopper's Hell (Redux)

Gas: lines longer than a booklet about what your insurance DOESN'T cover, pumps out since yesterday, premium climbing - might be cheaper to fly home than drive, and containers containers everywhere and people backing their cars and trucks into each other - you'd think Ernie was trying to buy 12 things in the 10 items or less line!

Food Stores: packed with clueless shoppers on cell phones, knocking over displays of Pork-Weenies-N_Beans, buying water when they could save themselves a few bucks just filling tap water jugs at home, stocking up on cake, cookies, cheetos, peanut brittle, and other life saving necessities

Walmart? crammed to the ceiling with folks dashing for batteries, peroxide (after all, those taped windows just NEVER hold up well), rope (maybe to hang themselves for NOT moving AGAIN! lol), and light bulbs-LIGHT BULBS??!! (because they work so well without electrical power didn't you know?)

UH OH. And how do I know all this? I must be one of those wonder-brains shopping late and lookin' dumb :O

Sincerely,

Conie
(I'm trying a softer edge here - coneOFdeath sounds so close to home, now that I think about it) :)
2100. frostynugs
3:56 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
^I agree, looks stationary to me as well.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
2099. hepzibah77
2:55 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Hello everybody. I was looking at the radar and the storm looks like it is somewhat stationary.

I am not saying it is stationary. It just looks like it to my untrained eyes. Am I just imagining this?
2098. Boca1957
2:41 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Link GFS Model Run
2097. coneOfdeath
2:02 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Oh Yippie,

woke up this a.m. hoping that perhaps it would have croaked over the tip of cuba of course I should have realized that I live on a pennisula made of magnets that drags 8 out of 10 storms that approach within 3000 nm give or take a margin of error of 5000 miles . . .

Last night it was gorging on peanut butter and ice cream and thinking it couldn't POSSIBLY come anywhere remotely close to Broward, under ANY circumstances. Then, voila! CONE OF DEATH swallows the state :(

I am wondering what the equation is. Prepare ahead of time, shutter up right after Xmas and keep them up like a tomb until December 22 OR . . .

just give up lol.

Oh well. And to think-I was just getting used to my new roof . . .
2095. thelmores
1:42 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
if i was in the bahama's, i would probably be a little nervous....

fortunately, for the U.S. anyway, cuba will take something out of ernesto.... hopefully!
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
2094. reeldrlaura
1:40 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Multiple vortex is to Ernesto as too many cooks in the kitchen is to gumbo........never reaches full potential.
Member Since: July 31, 2005 Posts: 93 Comments: 6007
2092. thelmores
1:35 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
vortex, i agree.... i been saying that "anybody" that tells you they "know" ernesto's track, is full of bull bleep!

as stated before, we can't get more than 2 consective model runs showing the same thing......

its all goubg to be up to mother nature! :)
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
2091. vortextrance
1:35 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
The current center west of Gitmo appears to still be moving NNW or even N. At this rate Ernesto will be off the coast by this afternoon.
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 700
2090. SavannahStorm
1:34 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Part of the problem with forecasting Ernie's landfall is the high angle that he is bearing down on the FL peninsula. Just a couple degrees off on tragectory could mean a shift of several hundred miles in landfall!
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
2089. WeatherChickSTL
1:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
new blog up
2088. reeldrlaura
1:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Savannah......we're thinking the same thing!
Member Since: July 31, 2005 Posts: 93 Comments: 6007
2086. vortextrance
1:32 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
I just watched in an interview with a man from the NHC. He said they don't have much confidence in the intensity or track forecast. It depends on how it tracks over Cuba.Which if you read the discussions they have said all along they don't have much confidence in the forecast.
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 700
2084. reeldrlaura
1:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Thel, Gulf......seems that with the multiple vortex aspect of Ernesto, none of those vortexes is taking the lead. I keep looking for a solid coc, potential eyewall, anything like that. Schizophrenic storm for sure!!!
Member Since: July 31, 2005 Posts: 93 Comments: 6007
2083. ihave27windows
1:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
The Outback? Oh crap, gotta go tie me kangaroo down, sport.....
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14928
2082. nash28
1:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Hey StPeteBill.

My take is that I believe Ernesto is going to start a WNW movement very soon as it is going to start feeling the affects of the High.

Also, the trough may not be as strong as the models have forecasted and it has picked up its forward speed, which throws the timing of the trough grabbing Ernesto off a bit.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
2081. SWFLdrob
1:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
doesn't appear to be that windy in Guantanamo Bay at the moment.

Link
2080. SavannahStorm
1:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
If you look between Ernesto and the big ULL to the west, you'll se a small anticyclonic swirl on the WV loop. A small high perhaps? That feature could be what's keeping Ernie from moving more west.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
2079. ralphfurley
1:28 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
seems as though people here in Miami Dade and Broward are well prepared. Local stations started wall to wall coverage just before 5am. stores are busy but not packed. Broward EOC has news conference at noon. Miami and Broward schools will be closed tomorrow. They seem to be preparing for CAT 1. Only mobile homes evacuate in a CAT 1. otherwise a beautiful sunny and hot morning.
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 117
2077. StPeteBill
1:27 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
ok nash, what's your take on the storm this morning?
Member Since: June 12, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 68
2076. Tazmanian
1:27 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
are you say that HUGE west track could put it more back in to the gulf and ive it more time to get stonger?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
2074. thelmores
1:27 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
"Mornin all....Thel, how's it look today???"

laura, i don't have a "clue" ernesto's final destination.... at this point, i guess we are "all" going to have to put a little "faith" in the models......
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
2073. gnshpdude
1:26 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
I would also bet the NOAA jet found that the high pressure "ridge" over Florida was not as strong as forcast hence the movement in the last feww advisories NNW to NW.
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 121
2070. soflanative
1:26 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Anyone..What is the terrain elevation where Ernie is crossing Cuba ???..lost the goggle link someone posted
2067. Tazmanian
1:25 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
so where is are storm now iss it on land is it moveing in open wataer is it moveing a little faster what?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
2066. K8eCane
1:24 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
to be quite honest gulf you are right about the high...i think a HUGE west swing is in order when the next advisory comes out
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3196
2065. thelmores
1:24 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
"Morning Thel! How much more to the right do you want to go today? I'm ready for a little more."

hades, why not..... i think we can just "skirt melbourne" and head up the coast, or do you want to go all the way to the bahama's! LOL

Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
2064. gnshpdude
1:24 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Destinjeff,

I beleive once big E gets north of 20 the trough won't have to be that strong to pick it up. Also if you read the local NWS forcast out of Mobile they state that a high pressure ridge will NOT be building in until at least this weekend. I think this is the reason for the lack of Western movement in the forcast.
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 121
2063. ricderr
1:24 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
everything i've looked so far..points at florida..i think the big question...is how hard does it hit..and threfore...how far reaching are the worst affects
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
2062. ihave27windows
1:23 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Alberto? lol

Ernesto?

Can you hear the drums Fernando...that should be our F storm.
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14928
2060. charliesurvivor
1:22 PM GMT on August 28, 2006
Dr.M needs to do more updates especially if a storm is within 1000 miles of U.S.I dont get the NHC track of South central Fla track.I still think it will be S.W.Fla landfall IF it holds together
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 190

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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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