Ernesto gets its name

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2006

The Hurricane Hunters visited Tropical Depression Five this afternoon, and at 1:30pm EDT found a surface circulation center and maximum sustained surface winds of 40 mph, making this Tropical Storm Ernesto. Visible satellite images from this afternoon show a a sheared system, with the low level circulation center completely exposed. Upper level winds from the northwest are creating 10-20 knots of shear, which is keeping all the heavy thunderstorm activity confined to the southeast (downwind) side. However, this heavy thunderstorm activity is building towards the center, and the storm has some solid spiral bands forming. The storm is intensifying in the face of the shear. Radar from Aruba shows some of the outer spiral bands.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Ernesto.

The models
The latest 12Z (8am EDT) model runs are in, and they portray a conflicting picture of what may happen. Three of the four major global models--UKMET, GFS, and NOGAPS--dissipate or severely weaken the storm by Monday. The Canadian model, which has been the most aggressive in making Ernesto a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, now keeps the system a weak tropical storm all the way to landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday. The European Center model has a similar forecast. Oddly, the large upper-level trough of low pressure over the central Caribbean is forecast by these models to move west away from Ernesto, and an upper level high pressure system to build on top of the storm. This situation should act to lower the shear and aid in intensification, and that it what the official NHC forecast is calling for. It is unusual for the models to forecast a favorable shear environment, yet dissipate a storm, and serves to show the limitations of these models in making hurricane intensity forecasts. I have very little confidence in any of the Ernesto intensity forecasts--including the official NHC forecast of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. High wind shear could still destroy this storm on Sunday. Ernesto should slowly intensify through Saturday, but beyond that, I have no idea. It's best to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. All portions the U.S. coast from the Florida Keys to Brownsville, Texas are at risk from this storm.

Given the high degree of uncertainty in Ernesto's intensity, those of you traveling to or from Jamaica, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and Cancun should play "wait and see" as long as you can. At this point, it is likely that Jamaica, eastern Cuba, and southwest Haiti will get tropical storm conditions on Sunday. Jamaica's airports will probably close about 2am Sunday, and remain closed into late Sunday night. Ernesto probably does not have enough time to intensify to a hurricane before reaching Jamaica. Airports in the Cayman Islands will probably close by late morning on Sunday, and reopen Monday afternoon. Ernesto could be a Category 1 hurricane for the Caymans.

Hurricane Ioke
Hurricane Ioke in the Central Pacific has reached Category 5 status with 160 mph winds today. Ioke is the first hurricane in the Central Pacific since 2002. It's not a threat to any land areas, but is most impressive on satellite imagery. The 12Z GFDL has Ioke at 880mb in 5 days, the lowest forecast pressure I've seen from the GFDL model.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Category 5 Hurricane Ioke, 2030 GMT, 8/25/06. Image credit: Navy Research Lab.

Max Mayfield to step down
Max Mayfield announced today that he is stepping down as head of the National Hurricane Center at the end of the year, according to press reports from the Miami Herald and Florida Sun Sentinel. Mayfield, 57, admitted that the last two hurricane seasons wore him out. Ed Rappaport, the center's deputy director and a veteran forecaster may be next in line for the job, after Max steps down on January 3. Max will be missed--his expert guidance of NHC has no doubt saved many lives, and I will miss his calm and intelligent presence at the helm of NHC.

Next update
The next Hurricane Hunter mission into Ernesto is at 2am EDT Saturday morning. My next update will be Saturday morning between 9-11am, or earlier if there's something major to comment on. I don't have my model summary piece completed yet, but will do so as soon as I get it done.

New JeffMasters blog for dial-up users
There is new blog site for those of you suffering on slow dial-up connections, or for those of you who don't want to see the comments:

http://www.wund.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html

Jeff Masters

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1466. silverstripes
5:51 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
2 mph with wind gust of 6 @ 14.6 and -69.48 from recon.

Indication of COC?
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1465. Patrap
5:55 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..er..15...70...
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1464. HurricaneMyles
5:54 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
Savannah,

That big blue spot is the heaviest thunderstorms. Eyes are cloud free. Do you see why it isnt an eye?
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
1463. Canenut
5:55 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
RECON CENTER FIX

05:41:30 14.58 -69.5 4797 326 6 9 67 65
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1462. Patrap
5:54 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..all the new runs have the sketchy..WTF now look...?...
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1461. guygee
5:38 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
Posted By: wxwatcher at 5:36 AM GMT on August 26, 2006.

I am looking 5 - 7 days down the road and I can eliminate the western Gulf as an impact point for Ernesto (provided we still have a storm). I can do this because years and years of research, calculations, and knowledge of hurricanes leads ME to this conclusion.

wxwatcher - I totally understand your points about needing to gain the public trust and maintain credibility, but wouldn't be even more damaging to credibility if you have to go back on a long-range forecast you made with 100% certainty? After all, what is the average error and standard deviation on track predictions of tropical systems 5-7 days out? Predicting with such large lead times would seem to undermine your argument, as the track error decreases with time, and it seems unnecessary to make such an emphatic prediction this far out. I respect your experience and expertise, I am just trying to understand your point.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3615
1459. CrazyC83
5:53 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
My prediction for the minimum pressure at peak: 906 mb
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1458. leftyy420
5:53 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
all i know there is no eye lol
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1457. waverunner
5:52 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
I think we need a forecast by STORMTOP. Where is the storm headed to? Max winds? Predictions of course. Lefty can you help?
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 21
1456. Patrap
5:53 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..HH on timeline..to center..5 min early..nice in route
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1455. Alec
1:51 AM EDT on August 26, 2006
Yes 23....its all a matter in how strong the trough is and how much the ridge holds in strength...If the ridge stays strong then a more westward track is likely, but if it becomes weaker it would move more northerly...
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1454. HurricaneMyles
5:51 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
wxwatcher,

You're putting words in our mouths. We arent saying you alert everyone, but you let them know its possible. Cuz right now, like many have said before, we really dont know how things will be. We have an idea, but these ideas have been wrong many times before.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
1453. leftyy420
5:50 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
wx i am more confused than ever. a hurricane warning for the whole us? what?

all i know is when u said the southern gulf was safe u lost all cred man. its 7 days out. No one with any weather training would make that statement ever
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1452. hurricane23
1:50 AM EDT on August 26, 2006
JP you think the GFDL model is maybe sencing the affects of the trof coming.
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1451. Canenut
5:51 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
They just punched through the center, check Weathermatrix
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1449. Crisis57
5:52 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
so hurricane23 would u say its still something us here in fl need to watch?
1448. Patrap
5:50 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..SwooosH,.... Ahhhhhh.."Luke..I find your lack of faith in the GFDL...Disturbing"!....
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1447. AllyBama
5:48 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
shhhh!...Ernesto has eye closed..do NOT wake the sleeping giant...let him go into deep sleep..zzzzzz
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 134 Comments: 20679
1446. SavannahStorm
5:49 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
jeez, there isnt even circulation and ppl are pointing out eyes, predicting where it wont hit etc.. some of you are jokes lol.

If there wasn't a circulation... it wouldn't be called a tropical cyclone...
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1445. Tazmanian
10:49 PM PDT on August 25, 2006
hey what all start playing a new game how low will the mb go
1444. Patrap
5:49 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..28..87..problamatic for many in 120..
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1443. hurricane23
1:47 AM EDT on August 26, 2006
Guys The GFDL is sensing the trough.
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1440. Patrap
5:48 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..Impact with new guidance...still way early...Mon will lay it down...then the right actions ..if needed will be heeded with good warning...
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1439. waverunner
5:47 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
chill biloxi
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 21
1438. CrazyC83
5:45 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
NOT AN OFFICIAL FORECAST - Just my prediction.

Yes, this backs up the previous forecast. I think an Ivan-like path is in order, and it will wrap back around in the Gulf, with ample opportunity for explosive development. It won't come immediately, but in the next 48 hours Ernesto will become formidable, and by 72 hours, increasingly an extremely dangerous hurricane.

Now is a good time to have your hurricane preparation in order anyway in the Gulf basin, from Florida to Mexico and Cuba.

Current - 14.8/69.1 - 40kt
12 hrs - 15.4/71.2 - 50kt
24 hrs - 16.2/73.5 - 60kt
36 hrs - 17.0/75.5 - 70kt
48 hrs - 17.9/77.8 - 80kt - Near Jamaica
60 hrs - 18.7/79.9 - 100kt
72 hrs - 20.0/82.2 - 130kt
96 hrs - 22.8/85.7 - 150kt - In Gulf
120 hrs - 27.7/86.8 - 135kt
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1437. Canenut
5:47 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
AndyN, scroll down the initial web page, you'll see it.
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1436. kylejourdan2006
11:47 PM MDT on August 25, 2006
Thanks a lot again jp - you, Weather456, and hurricane23 are the most helpful on this blog! Keep up the good work! LOL
Member Since: July 18, 2006 Posts: 32 Comments: 1521
1435. Jedkins
5:41 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
ya siriously,don't panic yet,just be ready,because the fact we may have a sirious hurricane making landfall along the gulf coast is something we need to be ready for,but as I said don't panic,this thing STILL has to survive shear next couple days before conditions become highly favorable in its path.

I am most worried about Eastern Louisiana to the panhandle as far as landfall is concerned,although ANYWHERE along the gulf coast is possible but that is my oppinion on things.
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1434. Crisis57
5:44 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
like i said things can change i see the GFDL shifted a little more ne now but still to early and these models will change like dudes changing there underwear lol
1433. Patrap
5:46 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..the bottom line..best guess..when & where he rides the ridge N..then makes the turn..as per usual..last week in Aug..LOL
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1431. Biloxigal
5:45 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
xweather - have you ever been in a hurricane? Have you visted the MS Gulf Coast lately? Have you ever lost everything you own in a hurricane? Have you seen your family lose everything? I have - before you talk of the problems of "early warning" maybe you should get out of the mountains and live in the REAL WORLD!
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1430. Alec
1:43 AM EDT on August 26, 2006
When/IF Ernesto gets stronger and more defined, then we will have a better grasp in where it will go in the short term..... 4-7 days out is a mystery now.....It's all about timing about the shear, steering currents and forward speed of the storm that will determine the final outcome.......Long term is just an educated guess....cannot eliminate any particular region now along the GOM coast...
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1429. hurricane23
1:45 AM EDT on August 26, 2006
Models posted showing maybe and i say maybe a trend towards the N-NE like the nogaps has been showing.
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1428. kylejourdan2006
11:45 PM MDT on August 25, 2006
And Taz - They have been recording data from the storm for some time now, maximum sustained flight level winds are 55mph w/ gusts to 56mph. Hope that helps!
Member Since: July 18, 2006 Posts: 32 Comments: 1521
1427. AndyN
12:46 AM CDT on August 26, 2006
Canenut: Couldn't find the link in the site
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1425. Canenut
5:44 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
Taz, they'll do another fix or two at least before departing.
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1424. Patrap
5:44 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..theres a good xample in the latest runs..the superensemble is still scattered..but changing
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1423. waverunner
5:43 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
agree with lefty
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 21
1420. kylejourdan2006
11:43 PM MDT on August 25, 2006
Thanks a lot jp - appreciate it! So, do you know what the conversion is from "flight level" to "surface"?
Member Since: July 18, 2006 Posts: 32 Comments: 1521
1419. Canenut
5:42 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
Lefty, been a long time. Now that WVU doesn't have to play VT, GO HOKIES
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1418. Tazmanian
10:41 PM PDT on August 25, 2006
are they flying out now?
1417. Patrap
5:43 AM GMT on August 26, 2006
..and as we close in on the Start of next week..the runs get iffy on guidance..due to SHIPS uncertainty...
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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