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Ernesto slowly strengthing, headed towards the Keys

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:03 PM GMT on August 29, 2006

A quick update on Ernesto--the latest Hurricane Hunter mission at 6:30am EDT found only 45 mph winds at the surface, and a 1005 mb pressure. The Hurricane Hunters earned their money today, as they reported moderate turbulence during many of their legs. This often happens in intensifying storms right next to land, as the air flowing over the land to water is very turbulent. Ernesto is slowly strengthening, but probably only has enough time to make it to a 60 mph tropical storm before landfall on the mainland Florida Peninsula in Everglades National Park. Satellite imagery shows a slowly expanding area of intense thunderstorms near the center, and some decent upper-level outflow on the east side. There is dry air on the storm's west side, and this is being pumped into Ernesto by a small upper-level low to is west. This influence should wane today as the upper low weakens and moves off.

You can see some ill-defined spiral bands on the Key West radar, but the storm's low-level organization is poor.

The latest forecast models are all in excellent agreement, calling for a landfall in the Everglades tonight, a long passage up the spine of Florida, followed by a re-emergence into the Atlantic and possible re-intensification to a Category 1 hurricane before a second landfall in the Carolinas.

Figure 1. Tropical Storm Ernesto at 1:45 pm EDT Monday August 28, as presented by the NOAA Visualization Program.

Next update
I'll have an update by 12 pm EDT, and will discuss what might come after Ernesto. There is a new tropical wave in the mid-Atlantic that has some potential for development.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

If we went back a couple of days and looked at the reliable models, they showed a fairly slow cross of Cuba with several of them heading the storm right up the middle.

Obviously the energy generation is over water, so once the center is disrupted by land there are lots of eddies and unbalanced convection, especially since Ernesto was rather unbalanced and ugly to start with.

I think where the center is trying to be, just N of Cuba, is about where the models would have said a few days ago, and the more N and NE "apparent" centers are just local eddies that are shifting and dying as the main circulation recovers.

If this is true, then the storm will end up significantly further W than anticipated, and the intensity becomes very difficult to predict, as it will depend heavily on the restructuring of the storm. Until it edges a bit more N it will be hard to say for sure, as any convection on the S side still faces land interaction now.

I personally think a track over the keys is more likely than a southern tip landfall, but I don't know much, and my opinion counts for little!
And Ioke, well that is pain free so far, and is easily the most amazing natural phenomenon. The thing has been cat 5 forever. I think everybody on the west coast of Florida would be wise to watch and have some kind of a plan. Don't rush to it but be wise. If it turns out that way, don't be the couple waiting on the beach with your picture phone.
Gulf Queen i was noticing that myself
Does anyone notice the trough which is assumed will pick up Ernesto and turn it northeast appears to be tailing up?
506. KRL
Looking at the radar for the pattern flow ahead of Ernie, I'm thinking Ernie's going to ride just off the west coast of FL and go inland just east off the pahnhandle.
Posted By: GulfCoastQueen at 3:29 PM GMT on August 29, 2006.
well, alrighty then, you guys can bash each other for days, but when someone asks a legitimate question no one answers? Hmmm...

GulfCoastQueen, it's a lot harder to bash a legitimate question.
This from Baynews9 in the Tampa Bay area,

"At 11 a.m., a tropical storm watch goes into effect along the Bay area coast from Tarpon Springs southward, including Tampa Bay, through Manatee and Sarasota counties. South of Sarasota County, a tropical storm warning has been issued through SW Florida".
i am frankly surprised they have not schedualed something into the catl yet it looks disturbing on the sat. pics.
GulfQueen- I think that's a Google Earth feature, (or they're just plugging in the coordinates from the raw flight data...) but I have no idea where they get it from. Anyone want to fill us in?

looks like recon found a vortex nne of the 11am advisory
I agree with coffeecrusader. I think that this storm will hit the west coast of Florida between Tampa and Naples. Looking at the latest radar images it appears the center is moving west-northwest right along the coast of Cuba. I think this storm will hit as a strong tropical storm/weak cat 1 hurricane near naples or a cat 2 hurricane near Sarasota or Tampa.
i just my opinion infact for all i know the
coc may be with super typhoon IOKE
As soon as I posted about the Tampa area the watch was changed to a warning.
Ernesto is continuing to slowly strengthen over the Florida straits. This is indicated by radar and satellite imagery. Read more on the 8:30 am

Hurricane Warning Ernesto Analysis

Ill probably update around 5 or so.
It's wierd that the pressures at none of the nearby bouys are falling. One did have a 35kt gust, though...
"You center is wrong thelmores"

which one? LOL
Is it possible that the forward speed has slowed as well? I think we're wanting for it to be making faster forward progress than it seems to be accomplishing.

Clouds have blown up and away, but the rotation seems to be progressing very slowly along the Cuban coast.
Franck, I did notice that....for one thing I'm sitting here boiling in Texas and praying for any kind of relief. It appears to me it has stalled, or slowed down to a crawl.
Astrophysics- Do you live in Tampa?
If you end up being right thelmores I'll praise you for it. Best case might be going right through the glades.
Yeah it's obvious the ULL is doing just that.
check the latest visiable! wow
Am I crazy or am I starting to see what could be the COC in the lower left of this Link
I'll be back later when all the wild speculation and finger pointing is about over. Good day everyone.
Note that the BAM models, which I believe run fastest (and thus latest) are the west-most outliers now.

The further west it goes, the better it will be for the eastern seaboard, but the worse it will be for FL. Slower and further west would not be good! Hopefully it will turn N now....
Ok, im 30 miles inland just east of sarasota/bradenton. So what am i looking at? thanks. Btw, you guys give awesome information
What is the blob at ~24.7N 77.7W, and how does it relate to the coc?

How far from the center are TS winds?

dolfin - got a good umbrella?

FtLaud - that's not the COC. The COC is still offscreen to the right.
WK - COC trying to reform further NE...? Hmmm....
hmmmm...27...did you say it's hot..or you're hot.....bad eyes today
..Whats the Staus of Ernie ?..Gmorning
Sorry if this double posts:

Our composite inability to agree on the "center" is not unusual -- Ernesto is a very disrupted and disorganized storm, quite capable of having a broad "center" with multiple vortices. Just get prepared, sit back and watch and learn.

I'm not predicting here because of what I learned last year with Rita/Katrina. The authorities were often wrong and at times discounted factors noticed by others. At times they were right. But one of the most common themes was the inability to initialize/predict disorganized storms in a multiple varibale environment.
Thanks for that post. I'm near Tampa, (a bit inland, to the northeast), and I haven't heard a thing on our local news here about it being near our area.
I thought it was just me that noticed it looked like it was moving more "west", then "northwest"....?
Thanks for the info.

the COC is jussssst visible on the right bottom of the radar echo
Hey all~ I drug myself out of the mountains to the cone of doom. Been getting caught up... Here's neat arcive to current NHC graphic loops on Ernesto.
So is there any chance this storm could continue going Northwest?? And enter into the gulf? Or is this for sure a FL landfall?

Im just not seeing it. Im very confused.

Bad Feeling??? Please explain.
I'm with you Gulf. It's only a matter of time before the intensity catches up with the reorganization.
rookie here but sure looks like it is moving west
547. KRL
Posted By: coffeecrusader at 11:24 AM EDT on August 29, 2006.
All the major models have it hitting the west coast of Florida between Naples and Tampa except the GFS which is east. However the GFS was run at 8pm last night, while the other models were run at either 2am or 8am. The BAMM has remained consistent for the last 3 days with a Tampa landfall. I think this is a west coast storm.

I'm in agreement on this also. Visually, on the positioning of the forces left and right of Ernie you can see the logical path of least resistance route.
Good morning everyone. Was wondering if any of you S Floridians had heard if they are evacuating Sanibel Island? Wishing you all the best from the Pacific Northwest.
When I look at the long-range radar out of Key West, I see wnw. Maybe just a nothing.
GS, isn't that something? And to think the Florida and Cuba land mass should be heavily restricting outflow at present. It will be interesting to see this thing in the Gulf.
wow this thing is boiling
This is the E storm Gulf, Egodzilla.
Ernesto has "tried" to be a big storm multiple times, but always ended ragged and disorganized.

It looks like it trying again, but Cuba keeps it from succeeding. The denso over cast, that looks like a CDO, isn't very "central", I think. Perhaps the center may reform under the convection, but I think such convection will fire and fizzle until the true center gets over water and convection fully wraps.

It looks like it would like to be 5x the current size, if it can organize all the convection into feeder bands, but that may just be an illusion. Any comments on this? Do canes ever "explode" in size?

I personally don't think it will be good for this go much further W and get an extra day over water. Hopefully the center does reform to the N and E, and then head North. I think a true center further S and W would tend to recurve much less, and the track will be considerably further west.
Ernesto overlay 1500 GMT
Remember a few hours ago when I posted *), well, that latest visible is a little better than that. It's still getting better organized and soon it will strengthen imho, which are two separate events sometimes ( unlike Katrina which did both at once fast in this phase)

now, as far as movement I will go on record with just a hair west of NNW as of right now.
I seem to remember that when Wilma crossed the glades last year, that it intensified due to the heat. Does anyone remember that?
LOL Scotsman....only time will tell who's delusional...and who just got plain lucky with their prognostications
Guys Satellite presentation is improveing with ernesto and once the LLC makes landfall in the upperkeys all of mainland Southflorida will be on the right side of this storm,so basically expect strong winds between 50-70 mph with very heavy rain.Everyone across south florida should be home and of the streets around 5:00pm.

And don't forget how Ernesto left its most impressive blob of convection behind in the Haiti area well after it had moved on. Don't be fooled by imitation CDO's posing as COC's!
,Sees Ernie has become a better navigator ,as he Heads for the Keys..via the Florida Straits..Ernie is becoming better Defined as every hour brings the 248nm radar into better view.Yhe cyclone is trying..once again to build a Warm column.He has the outfwow above and warm SSts,..ahead.
Gulf's right- that trough hasn't moved for 48 hours, and even if it does start moving in the next 24 hours, there isn't enough time to close the gap between it and Ernie to cause such a sharp turn N in it's track. Ernie is headed for the Gulf.
This whole thing is a big piece of crap I wish it would just go away forever
its not headed for the gulf. the old convection is moving WNW. the center and new convection that is boiling up is now moving to the NW to NNW. LOOK:

look at it this way Wayne...gives all of us something to do when we should probably be doing something else less entertaining!
Does anybody else besides me think that the "real" center is on the Cuban coast straight E of Havana, and almost due S of Miami?

THere isn't much convection there, but it seems to be the rotational center around which the other local blobs are anchored.

Or am I seeing a relic of land interaction, and the real center is actually up under the convection?

DestinRick and DestinJeff- what is your take on the convection that exploded near the panhandle? Is it Ernie-related, perhaps from his outflow? Are you getting any rain there? We sure could use it!
What's the chances of Ernesto going into the gulf and the new storm that is the Atlantic behind it?
Pipsneyy -- cold cloud tops and their motion do not indicate the COC. Look at the radar.
hhmmm, looked good on the preview comment...
I'm with Gulfscotsman. I have it in the same location. Clearly this was the center of circulation and has been. The disforming circular convection the HH found isnt the initial COC.
574. KRL
Posted By: SavannahStorm at 11:55 AM EDT on August 29, 2006.
Gulf's right- that trough hasn't moved for 48 hours, and even if it does start moving in the next 24 hours, there isn't enough time to close the gap between it and Ernie to cause such a sharp turn N in it's track. Ernie is headed for the Gulf.

The track is looking like 290 - 300. So I think this is indeed going to the GOM.
hey folks hope all is well with everyone.

could someone take time from boarding up and such to look at the next wave coming toward the caribbean? think that looks like trouble?
:they can recon or decon or defcon the COC anywhere they want...

it is still moving WNW through the straits!"

just the messanger.... do with the data what you want! :)
Pipsneyy- it is impossible to track the center on a storm like this using visible satellite imagery. The low-level center is below all the cold cloudtops and it's impossible to gauge motion from the cloudtops alone. Check the radar images, its moving WNW.
..on a breif note..The ceremonies at the !7th St. Canal Breech..was muted..with dignity..and good words..and roses for the lost.With a Wreath floating down the Canal..the Bells Tolled.PAtraps German Sheper & He,,tossed purple Green & Gold Teddy Bear,,and same colored Sunflower...for the WU bloggers....
Live Hurricane Positions add-in for Google Earth. And it's not on StormSpammer dot com. It's really sweet.
This Storm will bear watching. Although not on the same track, Hurricane Katrina was expected to turn North and to the NE after it entered the Gulf due to an Approaching front. The Computer models showed it hitting Just North of Tampa. So it appears this storm is tracking further Weat and may stay over water longer.
Just an observation. Most Hurricanes have a mind of their own, and we haven't figured out how to read their minds yet!
Just overcast here today...not much going on and only the normal 30% chance of isolated afternoon storms here. Nothing to get excited about...but we sure could use a good, steady two-day rain here in the Panhandle
Looks like some severe outer rain bands are starting to hit Key West right now!

Thank you. Not sure I understand all that. Actually I know I don't understand all that. So where do you think (in layman terms) where the storm will go? Thanks again...
I think the fact that the straits waters aren't just hot they are so shallow in many places may be adding to the strengthening right now. Off the Keys you can practically wade to Cuba.
It does appear to be moving to the Gulf. it also appears to be bombing.
I agree, Gulf. This storm has persevered. It seems to me like it wants to erupt.

Of course, being a carpenter, my observation is unfounded in meteorology. lol.
The storm is moving too fast to be picked up. The storm is going to end up in the gulf before the northerly track occurs. My landfall prediction is around Ft. Myers give or take 20 or so nm. north to that. Also it'll be a high Cat 1 at that time. I just got done with running my own computer modeling on A MAC! LOL. and 95 out of 100 runs brings the storm into the gulf. We'll see.
gosh hurricane..do you have money down on the Florida landfall?
Key West long range radar....sure looks like a COC just off the Cuban coast...ssW of Miami...with banding features building on the Northwest side.

That's a cool program.
Just got one. Anyone have a quick update on Ernesto? Is it heading more West of the forcast track? Or better said, taking the Western side of the cone?
Posted By: franck at 4:02 PM GMT on August 29, 2006.
gosh hurricane..do you have money down on the Florida landfall?

No, But he did stay at a Holiday Inn last night!
If this storm DOES enter the gulf and heads towards LA, what would you predict it's size would be at land fall? This isn't a debat of IF it will it's a question of what would happen if it does go into the gulf.
so how is are storm doing is it bombing now? and is it going to the gulf?
Thanks, DRick. I'm not overly-excited- I just wish some of them would move a tad to the west-my way! 22 in. down is not a fun place to be...
Ernesto's right on track and actually has the best structure (albeit very small) I've seen in days... Nice little TS now...
Condolences..Patrap..thoughts are still with you guys.

Finally! Somebody who agrees with me!

If we're right about this we'll have to start a Blind Squirrels Society!

If it is indeed that far S and moving that slowly, FL has a serious problem coming.

..sees the overall motion ..last 45 mins..290 @ 12
I think thw inds will go up by the 2:00 pm advisory proabably 50 -55 mph
That flare off Panhandle was just the ULL hitting some of the trough coming down from the north IMO.
i think it is moving nw
Don't know what happened to my last post but here goes again. It looks like some severe weather bands are now hitting Key West. It also looks lie Miami may be getting them in about a hour or 2.
Posted By: hurricaneman23 at 4:01 PM GMT on August 29, 2006.
its gonna go right through florida. all u idiots need to calm down

nothings writein in stone yo
..Thanx Franck..Got some good pics of the Ceremony & the Breech as it stands now.Along with shots of the new Floodgates and the Construction..will try to post them on my Blog..if I can,,
so how is are storm doing is it bombing now???????????? and is it going to the gulf???????????

How confident are you in your predictions? If you are correct, you, and some others, deserve some sort of prize. I must admit, I am starting to see it doing exactly what you are saying it will do.
GulfScotsman (& others)- still hanging tough on the West Coast Landfall I see. Me too. That being said, I am starting to see resistance to the West, Upper levels giving ground to the east. Ernesto tilting vertically to the NE? It seems to be a coast skirter so; it skirts the SW FL coast. Hard to say landfall - takes a hard shove to put it over when paralleling the coast & a couple of degrees moves the landfall a long way... But...way out on a limb... Englewood.
New blog up.
Check out the water vapor loop at http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/watl/loop-wv.html

This tells the whole story.
..Thanx all for knds words.They go far..in our Hearts..Now.Lets send Ernie to the Cragger!
Looks like middle keys getting them alsoLink
Taz a strong possiblity
Slip the Keys into the Gulf of Mexico, cat 1 or 2 within 18 hours... potential major hurricane landfall on the Florida West Coast.Posted by GulfScotsman

I agree with your track, but I think the intensity will top out at a low level Cat 2 at best. Ernesto will intensify, but it has too much reorganizing yet to do to reach major status before land fall IMHO.
hi everyone back again earnie is getting better organized lots of purple blowing up near the center it might be a cat1 before it get to fla

what you think lefty and hurricane 23 prettey impressive this hour
Posted By: hadishon at 4:06 PM GMT on August 29, 2006.
If this storm DOES enter the gulf and heads towards LA, what would you predict it's size would be at land fall? This isn't a debat of IF it will it's a question of what would happen if it does go into the gulf.

A major hurricane.
Posted By: GulfScotsman at 11:07 AM CDT on August 29, 2006.
Posted By: Patrap at 10:59 AM CDT on August 29, 2006.

we will never forget ... here in blogspace!

God Bless you and your family and all who lost so much!

Very well said GS.
I dont understand why there has to be so much bashing here. This is not going to be a major hurricane wherever it makes land fall. Yes we all would like to know where and when but we are not God, not even the people at the NHC that ultimately will get blamed for something. The bottom line is that anyone who lives in Florida knows the risk during the hurricane season and what precautions to take and what to be ready for. Personally I have no sympathy for anyone trying to buy plywood once his or her area is in the cone, gas is a different situation. Pipsneyy, I am curious where are you from?
New blog upLink
Hiexpress..verticle tilting is certainly a factor. That is something that could make it roll up the coast and stay out of the open Gulf after all. It would roll up the coastline like a barrel on its edge.
The Key West radar is here Link
Bahamas Link
And Cuba, Link , but only one (useless) location is working now
Afternoon all.....looks like Otto Pilot is still at the helm for ERnesto? What's up? Where's he going? Been catching some of the Katrina ceremonies.......glad you were there Patrat....represent darlin'....SO much love sent your way!!!
The Center is very hard to find..But I find the whole ciculation to be moving West to NW..As I have predicted for days now..THIS STORM WILL MAKE IT TO THE GULF..It has to turn almost due North within a few hours for it not to make the gulf..I guess the trough is weaker then the NHC thinks it is..I see it hitting the gulf and exploding to a Cat 2..The startto turn North once it enters the gulf and I thinbk the west coast of Florida around Tampa to Ceder Key is the bulls eye..I expect some big changes coming from the NHC at 5pm..Any comments..
I, too, expect changes made during the 5pm advisory. This thing will not be over today... or tomorrow.
ernesto starting to look much better
he has nice deep convection as well as improved banding in visible imagery. still not as impressive on radar but tropical storms usually aren't. at best he is holding his own for now. doubt we see any sig strengthening as the cneetr is still quite disorginsed
Sombody posted the link to the Water Vapor Loop and when you lay the forcast points on top of them the points show barely skirting the Southern tip. If the forcast keeps drifting West at all it should go into the Gulf. I would agree that there is likely to be some changes in the 5pm.

On another note ... this storm is making me nuts. I work in the insurance industry and I was called 2 days ago to be put on standby to go to work when this thing makes landfall. Now the question is do I continue packing. If it follows the NWS forcast I get to stay home for a while longer. If it doesn't I will likely be in Fla. by the weekend.

look south the center is now filling in down to the south it gaining strenth will be 50 mph at 2 pm .
latest recon fix was 23.48n 79.43w i circled at for u on a recent visible sat image

thanks lefty it is filling in now for the track it looks like it will cross the so. east fl. pinisular and stay nw into the gulf do you see that . i dont see it going striagt noth this reminds me of irene . it was a big rain maker
its going nw than will be pulled north than ne by the trof that is now moving thur. this will not take it with it so it will remerge and than make a second landfall somewhere on the east coast and even bring rains upinto canada
this si a surface map. see the Shortwave cenetr near kentucky and the trailing trof down thru texas. that will make him recirve in 24 hrs if not sooner

now this same feature on water vapor

Its looking a lot better...sure the winds will be stronger at 2pm!
Ernesto is blowing up... My latest GOES infrared is showing substantial center thunderstorm build up. I'll bet the 2p.m. advisory has this thing approaching cat 1
can anyone see this comming through ocala? They always say inland is not as bad but when we got hit by Frances and jean It was not fun at all:(
ERNESTO is definetly stregthening. You can clearly see the eye on the radar, and the structuaral bands are clearly defined. I couldn't be surprised is winds are now ar 60-70mph.
I doubt the next advisory will have this thing at a Cat1... But you never know.
looks like a burst of convection over or near the coc i still think we are going to get socked prudy good here in ol' Key West!!
Finally Ernesto is looking like a somewhat normal TS after a couple days of looking like a messy TS/TD. Still quite small but growing in size. Now for the pressure to drop...