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Haiti weakens Ernesto

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

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

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

Good Morning Musically, Gulf....I have missed you guys. The blog has been, well shall we say, disappointing lately.

Laura, not making preps as I live in Houston Galveston. Just like watching the storms and reading the posts.
2003. nash28
Hey there Ricderr.
Category7, hurricane miles
Thank you. My sentiments exactly.That's why it's called a blog. Only fleshy headed mutants would base life and death decisions on what they read on a blog.
Ric.....and then Run.....run so far away! LOL
27.....have you seen the system over the Yucutan? What do you think?
I said Morning to you earlier ric, but you ignored me.....Oh well, competing with the admiral is just something I cannot do. lol

I think I was spamed a few times last night for being silly, so watch out Laura. The Blog Police are watching....errrr was that Dream Police Gulf?
2011. K8eCane
i thought you agreed with the models on saturday. why the change?
i was thinkin they should be more reliable now with the noaa jet?
but then again i am NOT a met
So what is this storm doing right now. It looks like the system is moving almost north.
The clouds over and near the Yucatan have an interesting swirl don't they. I think it's a ULL....anyone correct me please.
Posted By: dnalia at 12:46 PM GMT on August 28, 2006.
Miami resident checking in. Well guys, what's it going to do? Should I put up the shutters or not?

Right now it's a tropical storm and a weak one at that. Why are they (NHC) saying it will strengthen back into a hurricane?

warm sst's and lack of wind shear
2015. ricderr
can someone tell me when the next gfdl run will be?....i thought it was an 8 am update also
2017. nash28
Alright everyone, it's too early to bicker.

Bottom line is this.... The models have been bouncing around since the beginning. Yes they have shifted East each time, but Ernesto has picked up forward speed and the trough may not be as strong as the models are predicting.

The track can shift westward or it might stay the same. If you live on the west coast, DO NOT let your guard down. Ther entire state is under the gun.
Morning Nash...sorry, should have said it in my last post.
27....very interesting swirl. Gulf, what's your take on it?
2022. nash28
Morning 27, Reel.
Should I still be getting ready here in the panhandle????
If the Yucatan swirl had convection it would look better than Ernie.
Mornin Nash.....who's bickering? LOL
27..that's an ULL over the Yucatan. The one that was out in front of Ernesto.
Well, I don't mind listening to the NHC's predictions but I think it is silly to hold it as gospel and the only source for accurate predictions. I live in Fort Myers and I can tell you first hand that the NHC has made its share of blunders. Remember Charley? Our local meteorologists got it right but the NHC still was saying Tampa until just before Charley hit! Also, Katrina was supposed to come across the state over us as a tropical storm before re-emerging into the Gulf. Instead, they didn't have time to even issue any evacuations in the Keys! Thankfully, it wasn't a Cat 5 at that time. I think it is great to have speculation from all sources. Heck, my wife said the night before Charley came that it would hit Port Charlotte. That was a lucky guess but I don't know how many times (Ernesto included) I have sat there and looked at the forecast and thought it was wrong only to be proven correct. I knew Ernesto wasn't going west. Initially, the cone was aimed toward the Yucatan peninsula. I had a feeling it was coming toward us here in Florida and I was right all along. Maybe its luck but after living in Florida all my life and coming from a family that has weathered almost every major hurricane that hit Florida in the 20's thru now, you begin to think like them. Keep up the great blog guys!

Blog Police is here.
Posted By: nash28 at 1:03 PM GMT on August 28, 2006.
Alright everyone, it's too early to bicker.

Bottom line is this.... The models have been bouncing around since the beginning. Yes they have shifted East each time, but Ernesto has picked up forward speed and the trough may not be as strong as the models are predicting.

The track can shift westward or it might stay the same. If you live on the west coast, DO NOT let your guard down. Ther entire state is under the gun.

This is the point I have been trying to make. None of the forecasts have been right so far. Like you said the trough may not be as strong and the center could reposition itself again because of the overall weakness of the storm. This are still too many variables to have a lot of confidence in anything. Neither side of the peninsula should take anything for granted at this point.
I don't think.....I KNOW.....if you live anywhere along the gulf coast,
You should ALWAYS be ready. FL, AL, MS, LA, TX
That's what I thought Rand.....Still awfully pretty though.

How are you this fine morning?
wilee-not really; but I'd damn sure BE ready, to GET ready, Know-what-I-mean?
2036. ricderr
( red and blue lights flashing )...everyone up against the wall...i am the spam police....nash...storm..you two search the guys..i get the ladies....
anyone see the new model runs...more westward shift......thinking....somewhere in the middle myself
2037. K8eCane
i wouldnt take anything for granted on the entire fla state property...it could do anything at this point
Looks like a Cape Hatteras storm?

Man are the Models extremely off this year...
Ric! ROFLMA!!!!!
Seems these models have a harder time with storms like this, and look much better when they have a beast like Katrina..
ihave27windows...Doing fine here in sunny south Florida. Stocked up yesterday...got 6 hours sleep last night and woke up about 2:30am. Been working on this ever since. How are you today?
Same goes for the East Coast, drlaura. FL, GA, SC, NC, all the way up to Maine.
LoL ric

Has Ernie picked up forward speed? I suppose I should check the data, but it's so early and I am so lazy right now.
Wow, I'm batting 1.000 with Ernesto so far. Maybe I should quit what I'm doing now and become a meteorologist.
So does it now look like Ernesto might not reach hurricane status again after it crosses over Cuba and hits south Florida? What is everybodys thought about that?
I think this could possibly be a bigger event for Cape Hatteras, than Florida. I think once the storm emerges off of FL, or goes east of FL, it will hit the gulf stream, and maybe make cat.1 or possibly 2, and brush the Outer Banks. The computer models look interesting, almost staliing the strom off the SE coast. I live in SE Virginia (Norfolk) and dont expect much out of this storm, but I would say that the Outer Banks should keep a lookout. Anyone agree?
2048. K8eCane
well one thing for sure
whether we have one blog or 100 blogs
da weather gonna do what da weather wanna do
2051. KS4EC
No offense Dr. M. but could we get updates from you more often!! It is very hard to find usefull info in the Blog through all of the bickering and 2031 posts. We in SE FLA await news, although on second thought you probably don't read the blog anyway!
Ernie is moving almost due North on the Gitmo Radar. At this rate he'll be back over open water by mid-afternoon.
I'm good thanks, and been thinking a lot about my new friends in Florida....I do not envy all the times you must "get ready", but that is the price for paradise.
Savannah......You're ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about that!!!!
Nice radar link of gitmo that someone posted earlier. very slow loadingLink
I just don't understand why many wait on pins and needles for the next set of models to come out. This storms is being battered by the mountains and the longer it sits the harder it is going to be to predict direction and intensity.
what happens to the East Coast after Fl.. Things should pick up speed but the mid atlantic coast shelf water temps are very high due to the dry conditions and without any summer weather to stir things up- could he strike hard in the Chesapeake region again or be pulled back in further North? Issabel reminded the mid Atlantic that it is still a target.
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
Alberto? lol


Can you hear the drums Fernando...that should be our F storm.
2063. ricderr
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

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.
"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

2066. K8eCane
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
so where is are storm now iss it on land is it moveing in open wataer is it moveing a little faster what?
Anyone..What is the terrain elevation where Ernie is crossing Cuba ???..lost the goggle link someone posted
Wow they must have prisoners peddling bicycles downthere in Gitmo. It loads so slow. Gulf the mountains of Cuba are hitting you hard too. This storm is the F one not A
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.
"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......
are you say that HUGE west track could put it more back in to the gulf and ive it more time to get stonger?
ok nash, what's your take on the storm this morning?
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.
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.
doesn't appear to be that windy in Guantanamo Bay at the moment.

2082. nash28
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.
The Outback? Oh crap, gotta go tie me kangaroo down, sport.....
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!!!
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.
Savannah......we're thinking the same thing!
new blog up
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!
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.
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! :)
Multiple vortex is to Ernesto as too many cooks in the kitchen is to gumbo........never reaches full potential.
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!
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 . . .
Link GFS Model Run
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?
^I agree, looks stationary to me as well.
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


(I'm trying a softer edge here - coneOFdeath sounds so close to home, now that I think about it) :)

Norcross says we're all going to die.

Oh goodie.

ernie sure hasn't moved much...
2105. dpryor1
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!
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
2107. dpryor1
I know what you mean. Evidently your advice was more invaluable than you knew...
2108. dpryor1
Come hither, oh great prognosticators of cyclonic projection! We of the lowly, uneducated masses need your input!
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!!!


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 . . .