Ernesto spares Florida, heads for the Carolinas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:57 PM GMT on August 30, 2006

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Tropical Storm Ernesto waited until the final hours before landfall to finally put its act together, much to the benefit of South Florida. The pressure dropped from 1005 to 1001 mb as the storm came ashore about midnight, but the winds did not have time to adjust to the lower pressure, and Ernesto still had just 45 mph winds at landfall. A tropical storm in the developing phase is a fussy thing, and a number of ingredients have to come together just right for rapid intensification. I believe that the presence of Cuba to the south and the Florida Peninsula to the north, along with the particular pattern of upper air flow that existed, combined to create a turbulent air pattern with multiple vortices that made consolidation of the storm around just one central vortex difficult. One could see these multiple vortices in long radar loops last night, and it was not until just before landfall that Ernesto managed to consolidate around a single center and start to intensify. Had the storm had another 24 hours over the warm waters, it would have been a hurricane.


Figure 1.Total precipitation from the Miami radar.

So today, residents of Florida should be feeling good. There will be some heavy rains moving through periodically, but flooding should be minor. So far, Ernesto has dumped rain amounts less than four inches. Winds are too low to do any damage, but the windsurfers in South Florida get an unexpected boon. Virginia Key, one mile from downtown Miami, had sustained winds of 33 mph, gusting to 41 mph this morning at 8am. The Rickenbacker Causeway connecting Virginia Key to downtown Miami is a popular windsurfing spot I've spent many days windsurfing at, and I'm sure the windsurfers out out in force today to take advantage of Ernestos's unexpectedly modest winds. Sustained winds at other offshore buoys were generally in the 20-25 mph, with a peak wind gust at 50 mph seen at Vaca Key in the past hour.

Ernesto's forecast track
There is no change to the forecast. Ernesto is maintaining a well-organized appearance on radar animations, and should only slowly weaken during its 1-day long plus passage up the length of Florida. The storm will re-emerge into the Atlantic early Thursday morning and re-intensify over water. If the storm stays close to shore and makes landfall in South Carolina, it will probably come ashore Thursday night as a tropical storm. If the storm moves more offshore and makes landfall near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it has extra time over warmer water, and will have a chance to be a Category 1 hurricane. The chances of Ernesto becoming a hurricane are a little less than it appeared yesterday, since it made landfall in Florida as a weaker than expected storm.

Hurricane John
The most serious situation in the tropics today is off the west coast of Mexico, where Category 3 Hurricane John is. John has just completed an eyewall replacement cycle, and is expected to intensify into a Category 4 hurricane today. The Air Force Hurricane Hunters are in the storm now, since it presents a serious threat to the coast of Mexico from Acapulco to Manzanillo.

Super Typhoon Ioke
The incredible Category 5 Spertyphoon Ioke continues to trek over the Western Pacific, and is expected to submerge tiny Wake Island later today. The entire population of the island has been eveacuated to Hawaii.

African tropical waves
An tropical wave near 12N 34W, a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, has a pronounced surface circulation one can see in QuikSCAT satellite data from 3:52am EDT this morning. The amount of heavy thunderstorm activity has decreased since yesterday, and any development should be slow to occur. The thunderstorm activity associated with this wave was being enhanced yesterday by a process known as upper-level divergence. When the the winds at high levels diverge (blow outward from a common center), then air from the surface must rise to fill the vacuum created. As this surface air rises, the moisture in it condenses, fueling thunderstorms. Thunderstorms created by this mechanism make a tropical disturbance look more impressive than it really is. The wave has moved away from this area of upper divergence, reducing the amount of thunderstorm activity.

The large spiral of low clouds near 18N 45W surrounded by a large cloud of dry air and African dust continues to spin, but the thunderstorm activity near the center has dropped to nearly nil this morning. The wave is under a very favorable upper-level environment for development, with low shear and an upper-level anticyclone on top. However, water vapor satellite imagery shows that the air on all sides is very dry. The GFS model is showing that this wave will not be able to find a moister environment until Sunday at the earliest, when it may be near Puerto Rico or the Bahamas.

I'll be back late this afternoon with an update on Ernesto, John, Ioke, and the rest of the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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627. ricderr
9:33 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
weather...you going to explain..or am i going to half to walk all that way down the hall?
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
626. tilltummiburp
9:30 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Nokomis - Sarasota - 1/2 mile to the Gulf. No wind, no rain. Not a drop.
625. Cavin Rawlins
9:27 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
I made these images to go with my discussion this afternoon.....

Upper Air Chart....


Surface Chart
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
624. V26R
9:21 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
OOOOO Pretty Colors!
Sorry, Nice Pix tho!
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
623. ricderr
9:21 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
wow.....on my screen...on my tv...on the blog......anyone else want to pop it up?
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
622. pt100
9:20 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Hello People, Frank here (The Netherlands)

Ive been looking at the loop 1900hurricane provided us and if you slow it down you can see that the moist in the blob near the lake, does not come from the lake itsself. It sucks in the moist from the blob it created some time before that in the south of Florida.Here is theLink again so you can see for yourselves. Set animationspeed slower.
621. hurricane23
9:19 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
(GUYS HERE IS ERNESTO/TD ON RADAR)




Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
620. kabraxis
9:18 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Great Link imho. It looks like a dur N mvmt, but to me it appears to have slowed down. Anyone agree?
619. SEFL
9:16 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Posted By: drusierDMD at 5:03 PM EDT on August 30, 2006.
Posted By: Hellsniper223 at 5:00 PM EDT on August 30, 2006.
Ok, so is it possible that flat moist land could be good for an extremely disorganized system?


that kinda what i was thinking. are the glades salt water and Lake O fresh?

Water in the Glades comes from the lake. It might be brackish near Florida Bay, but it is fresh water....alligators don't like salt water
618. watchingnva
9:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
hooked, are you in richmond?
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 1516
616. V26R
9:14 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Kabraxis, With the stalled front across SNJ/EPA
Probably will skirt the outer banks, maybe the Va Beach area before getting scooped up bythe front and shoved out to the NE
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
615. ricderr
9:14 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
lives on the east coast...sees a westward shift..but you should still pay no attention :-)
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
614. PBG00
9:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
amazin..my daughter has to do a projest for the science fair..that sounds interesting
Member Since: October 20, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 6650
613. kabraxis
9:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
How far east do yall think it will go though? I mean how far up the E.C. before Landfall?
612. SEFL
9:11 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Posted By: EricNielsen at 4:52 PM EDT on August 30, 2006.
I have no idea why its strenghen are there similar storms from the past?

Speculation:
And i just thought about this, maybe because it was so dry the ground can't soak up fast enough the rain and the storm repicking it up?
Also the everglades are wet and warm. Then the sea which it passed.


You know there are lots of swimming pools in Florida and that pool water is really warm this late in the summer, maybe..............
611. PBG00
9:11 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
evening all..oh no not the west shift thing again..LOL. So this storm is on its way..again..we were real lucky in Fla.This thing just won't die. Wind has been picking up here..and the storm has passed. Go figure
Member Since: October 20, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 6650
610. weathermanwannabe
9:10 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Stormlvr...Look at the Water Vapor Loops..that trough coming down into the Gulf will not let it get into the Gulf..........
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9243
609. kabraxis
9:09 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
No, it isnt going west, the center just fot more disorganized.
608. V26R
9:09 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Stormlovr, Looks like still on a Northerly Trek
Sorry, You asked for it, Your Crazy! LOL
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
607. amazinwxman
9:08 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Please get off the west shift thing! only people seeing this "shift" are people who'd be effected by it if it did shift west! when someone who won't be effected see a west shift then I'll pay attention.
606. amazinwxman
9:07 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
salt water boils and heats up and holds onto that heat longer then fresh water. I did an experiment for school to show how hurricanes would form if the greenhouse effect really melted down the glaciers the waters wouldn't be so salty andhow this would effect hurricane developement. Anyway Salt water is better because the salt atoms/molecules help to hold the heat longer.
605. stormlovr
9:06 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
call me crazy .... does it look, to anyone else but me, that TD Ernesto is shifting west again? I don't want this thing to get back in the Gulf. Input anyone?
604. drusierDMD
9:04 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
the open HOT ocean with low shear is the recovery zone
603. weathermanwannabe
9:04 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Heating or no heating..It still looks pretty on radar...................
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9243
602. V26R
9:04 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Everyone is forgetting that any type of Low Pressure System on Land can go through a strengthening cycle, Even ole Ernie, seeing his close proximity to two sources of fuel, the GOM and the Gulf Stream! Some of the Nor'easters we get up here get really low pressures over land too!
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
601. Tazmanian
9:04 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Observed at: Kissimmee, Florida
Elevation: 82 ft / 25 m
[Light Rain]
79 F / 26 C
Light Rain
Humidity: 89%
Dew Point: 75 F / 24 C
Wind: 10 mph / 17 km/h from the NE
Pressure: 9.75 in / 330 hPa


ahahahahahaha you all see that
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
600. drusierDMD
9:03 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Posted By: Hellsniper223 at 5:00 PM EDT on August 30, 2006.
Ok, so is it possible that flat moist land could be good for an extremely disorganized system?


that kinda what i was thinking. are the glades salt water and Lake O fresh?
599. Hellsniper223
9:03 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Crossed cuba*
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
598. Hellsniper223
9:02 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
that would make the everglades like a TD recovery zone... But it couldn't stay there long or it'll requite more energy than the moist land can provide.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
597. Hellsniper223
9:00 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Ok, so is it possible that flat moist land could be good for an extremely disorganized system? Ernesto's COC was torn to shreds then it crossed the everglades... The everglades Provide a slow steady and stable environment for a COC to develop. While it would be bad for an already established storm because there is not enough moisture there, it could be just the right environment for a weak system... Kinda like a person whos not eaten in a while, You can't just throw a buffet at them or they'll get sick and take longer to recover.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
596. thelmores
9:00 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Observed at: Kissimmee, Florida
Elevation: 82 ft / 25 m
[Light Rain]
79 F / 26 C
Light Rain
Humidity: 89%
Dew Point: 75 F / 24 C
Wind: 10 mph / 17 km/h from the NE
Pressure: 9.75 in / 330 hPa

think ernesto killed Kissimmee's barometer! LOL

Observed at: Vero Beach, Florida
Elevation: 23 ft / 7 m
[Overcast]
79 F / 26 C
Overcast
Humidity: 89%
Dew Point: 75 F / 24 C
Wind: 26 mph / 43 km/h from the South
Wind Gust: 39 mph / 63 km/h
Pressure: 29.61 in / 1003 hPa
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
595. Skyepony (Mod)
8:58 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
My garden in Melbourne, Fl
1.12" so far
Misting rain
10.7 mph SSE
1003.7mb↓
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 38213
594. Tazmanian
8:58 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
the center of circulation has continued to move northward along the
Florida Peninsula producing intermittent bursts of convection and a
few rainbands. Surface observations indicate that winds remain
about 30 knots with a few stronger gusts. The cloud pattern
is still organized and there is a well-defined circulation.
Therefore...Ernesto has the potential to re-intensify slightly once
it moves over the Atlantic waters tonight as suggested by guidance.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
593. drusierDMD
8:58 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
rwdobson thanks for the accurate response. i remember learning about LeChatlier's Principle in undergrad. now i learn about teeth :)
592. hookedontropics
8:58 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
MAJOR ISSUES DOWNTOWN RICHMOND VA....

we had 3 inches of rain two weeks ago in a 2 hour period and our downtown flooded, similar to Gaston...but not quite as bad.

This will be repeat, hopefully not as bad as Gaston..
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 127
591. Sprocketeer
8:56 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
LOL, 2 mb drop over land. I think we have Florida's moist surface to thank for that.
590. Cavin Rawlins
8:56 PM GMT on August 30, 2006
Afternoon Again....You can stop by my new blog entry to leave your predictions on how many storms we will likely see in September.

I will announce the winner of August Predictions on Friday 1 September.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

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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.