Ernesto Reaches Tropical Storm Strength
At 4:00pm CDT:
– a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the southwestern peninsula of Hatti and for Jamaica.
– Tropical Storm Ernesto was located 300 miles south-southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico, movement is west-northwest at 16mph, maximum sustained winds are 40mph, and minimum surface pressure is 1004mb.
– Interest in the Gulf of Mexico should monitor the progress of Ernesto.
– Tropical Storm Debby continues in the open Atlantic and should not be a threat to land.
Ernesto finally made it to tropical storm strength today, not a bad attempt given the amount of mid-level shear the system is currently experiencing. The intensity forecast is rather tough given the current shear and model tendencies to relax shear too quickly. At this point it is expected that Ernesto will slowly strengthen through Monday. This is the time where many of the models relax the shear and this should allow Ernesto to strengthen. One model rapidly strengthens Ernesto by Tuesday, but NHC is going conservative and this is a good position. Ernesto should be a hurricane by Monday and medium-end Cat 1 hurricane by Wednesday. There is the potential for Ernesto to be stronger than currently forecast. The NHC forecast is within the model cluster around 75kts.
Track wise there is decent agreement among the models of taking to Ernesto north of the Yucatan by Wednesday. There is no reason to evaluate the forecast before that point since the progs show a mid/upper level ridge to the north of Ernesto through the period. With the models in such good agreement, there is little reason to pick apart the track at this point. Beyond Wednesday the model solutions vary greatly and this will not be touched for a few days.
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