WRUF Weather

Ernesto Now a Hurricane; Landfall Expected Tonight

Ernesto is now a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80mph.  Satellite data and hurricane hunter aircraft data verify that the storm continues to strengthen.  The forecast for Ernesto remains largely unchanged, with a landfall expected in Mexico south of Cozumel and Cancun early Wednesday as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane.

2 PM Tuesday NHC Update:  Located 185 miles E of Chetumal, Mexico (or 18.5N 85.5W).  Maximum sustained winds are at 80 mph.  Pressure 983 mb.  Moving WNW at 14 mph.

Forecast for Ernesto

Urgent tropical updates are available on our Live Storm Tracking page or by following @gatorweather on Twitter.


Prior Updates:

Sunday, August 5th

Ernesto Discussion:  Ernesto has lost it’s identity as a healthy tropical storm.  Satellite imagery on Sunday afternoon revealed very little thunderstorm activity near the center of circulation, and even the convection far away from the swirl on the eastern side was having a tough time holding together.  As mentioned yesterday, dry air to the west of the storm is likely to blame for Ernesto’s near collapse.  The forward speed of the storm may also be hindering it from staying organized as well.  Hurricane hunter aircraft found winds to be unevenly distributed and the strongest gusts (nearing 50 mph) were only found near thunderstorm activity on Ernesto’s north and east side.

Florence Discussion:  Florence does not look as organized today as it did on Saturday.  This is likely due to the storm moving over cooler waters in the central Atlantic.  Deep convection around the center of the storm has waned and further intensification appears unlikely in the next 24 hours.

Saturday, August 4th

Ernesto Discussion:  Hurricane Hunter data Saturday painted a much different picture of Tropical Storm Ernesto from near the water than what we were seeing from space.  Satellite imagery revealed a constant presence of thunderstorms near the center of circulation and favorable outflow winds at the upper levels, both of which indicate a healthy storm.  In fact, wind gusts near hurricane force were even estimated in some thunderstorm activity on the southeast side of Ernesto.  Warm sea surface temperatures and low wind shear were also indicative of a favorable environment for strengthening.  However, microwave imagery and reconnaissance reports indicated that the center of the storm had become a bit exposed, meaning the convection was NOT wrapping around the storm completely.   One reason for the lack of strengthening may be some dry air, seen on water vapor imagery, lurking just off to the west of the storm.  Satellite data and model guidance suggests this may be overcome by the storm on Sunday.  One more thing to note was a slight northward jaunt in the storm’s position and a slight increase in forward speed, both of which may be an indication the storm is reorganizing.

Forecast for Ernesto:  The forecast for Ernesto is becoming a bit unclear in light of recent trends.  Recent model data is suggesting the storm will maintain a westerly track through the central Caribbean through Monday.  While sea surface temperatures, upper-level winds, and convective trends all indicate favorable conditions for strengthening, several trustworthy computer models are forecasting some weakening on Sunday.  The official NHC forecast is for Ernesto to reach hurricane strength late Sunday or Monday as the storm moves south of Jamaica.  There is considerable agreement that Ernesto would continue to strengthen as the storm approaches the Yucatan Peninsula by mid-week.  A high pressure ridge to the north of Ernesto is forecast to hold together through next week, likely keeping the storm from turning much more to the north until after it emerges back over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.  At this time, chances are very low that Ernesto will impact the central or eastern Gulf.  There is no immediate threat to the U.S. Mainland from Ernesto, but all interests in the Gulf of Mexico (especially along the coastlines of Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico) should monitor the progress of this storm and stay tuned to future forecasts.

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