I'm just a 23 year old with an ardent passion for weather. I first became aware of this interest after Tropical Storm Isidore struck my area in 2002.
By: KoritheMan , 1:41 AM GMT on August 08, 2012
After six days, Ernesto has finally become a hurricane. As of the 8:00 PM EDT intermediate advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the following about the storm:
Wind: 85 mph, with higher gusts
Location: 18.7°N 87.1°W
Movement: W at 18 mph
Pressure: 980 mb
Category: 1 (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale)
Satellite and radar data from Belize indicate that Ernesto is still intensifying; a warm spot is evident in conventional satellite images right where the center is estimated to be.
Figure 1. Latest infrared satellite image of Hurricane Ernesto. Image credit: NOAA
Ernesto should be inland along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula just north of the Belize/Yucatan border within the next hour or two. It's not impossible that a little more strengthening could occur during the small period of time before landfall, and if I lived in Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula, I would be preparing for a Category 2 hurricane. Indeed, Ernesto is probably going through a rapid intensification phase of sorts, which will ultimately be thwarted by land interaction.
I have been unable to find significant wind reports in the landfall area given the sparse observations that are available there. Regardless, sustained winds between 80 - 100 mph will be possible for a brief period on the coast at and around the landfall point, particularly north of the eye. Although Ernesto is naturally expected to weaken subsequent to landfall, the terrain of the southern Yucatan is not particularly mountainous, and it is expected that Ernesto will emerge into the Bay of Campeche on Wednesday morning at or near hurricane strength. Once it emerges in the Bay of Campeche, conditions are expected to remain conducive for strengthening. Assuming the inner core is not too disrupted by passage overland, another period of rapid intensification is possible prior to Ernesto's final landfall, especially given the relatively slow motion of the hurricane that is being forecast at that time. However, Ernesto is already south of the 12 hour forecast point from the 5:00 PM NHC advisory, and if this continues, the hurricane will have less time over water than previously anticipated. One caveat to the intensity forecast when Ernesto enters the Gulf of Mexico is the possibility of some northerly shear, as alluded to be the GFS. While some of this is no doubt storm relative given the size of the hurricane, I doubt all of it is. This could be a fly in the ointment for Ernesto to make one last hurrah.
Ernesto is forecast to be a well-inland remnant low by Friday evening.
Ernesto is being steered into land by a narrow mid-level ridge over the Gulf of Mexico. The global models forecast this feature to persist, although a shortwave trough is forecast to drop southward out of Canada and weaken the ridge over the next few days. Should this happen, Ernesto would slow. However, with the southward deviation from the 12 hour NHC forecast point, Ernesto may be too far south to slow down significantly. Based on the above, my new forecast track is south of the one from the National Hurricane Center, and I imagine they will follow suit with the advent of the next advisory.
5-day intensity forecast
INITIAL 08/08 0000Z 75 KT 85 MPH...NEAR THE COAST
12 hour 08/08 1200Z 65 KT 75 MPH...INLAND
24 hour 08/09 0000Z 60 KT 70 MPH...OVER WATER
36 hour 08/09 1200Z 70 KT 80 MPH
48 hour 08/10 0000Z 75 KT 85 MPH
72 hour 08/11 0000Z 25 KT 30 MPH...DISSIPATING INLAND
96 hour 08/12 0000Z...DISSIPATED
5-day track forecast
Figure 2. My 5-day forecast track for Ernesto.
Watches and warnings
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* CHETUMAL TO TULUM ON THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
* COAST OF BELIZE FROM BELIZE CITY NORTHWARD TO THE BORDER OF MEXICO
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* NORTH OF TULUM TO CABO CATOCHE ON THE EAST COAST OF THE YUCATAN
* SOUTH OF BELIZE CITY SOUTHWARD TO THE BORDER OF GUATEMALA
* CELESTUN SOUTHWARD AND WESTWARD TO CHILITEPEC ALONG THE GULF COAST
FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA IN THE UNITED
STATES...INCLUDING POSSIBLE INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE
MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
FORECAST OFFICE. FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA OUTSIDE
THE UNITED STATES...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL
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