*Ernesto Becomes First Hurricane of the 2006 Tropical Season*
At 10:00am CDT:
– A hurricane warning is in effect for the southern coast of Haiti and Cuba.
– Hurricane Ernesto was located 115 miles southwest of Port Au Prince Haiti. Movement is towards the northwest at 9mph, maximum sustained winds are 75mph, and minimum surface pressure 997mb.
– A hurricane watch may be issued for the Florida Keys later today.
Contrary to typical tropical situations, shear over Ernesto is weakening about on schedule. This has allowed outflow to improve somewhat in the western semicircle, however outflow remains restricted in the southwestern quadrant of the system. Morning visible imagery does not show an eye and this is confirmed with water vapor and IR. In fact, the IR loop shows that Ernesto is not as organized early this morning, relative to the overnight period. However, this may be temporary as Ernesto organizes. While some strengthening is possible, Ernesto should not get much stronger than Cat 2 before it makes landfall. Ernesto will spend a significant amount of time over Cuba, which should weaken the system to a tropical storm. Especially if it does not get any more organized. 12z model progs average around 77kts at first landfall with Ernesto re-strengthening to 85 kts as it moves into the eastern Gulf. The SHIP model is out to lunch with 110kts through the period, given the current
track. The SHIPS and AVNI keep Ernesto near 70kts and this looks good for now. NHC forecast intensity is about the same.
The track forecast has changed significantly since my last discussion. NHC and model guidance recurve Ernesto over Cuba and take it towards Florida. Consistency among the models and good track agreement greatly increase confidence on recurvature over Cuba. There are some questions, such as how much time will Ernesto spend over Cuba and how strong will it recurve; which both can cause dramatic changes to the forecast. Currently a small southern stream shortwave trof is moving east into Oklahoma. Said trof is progged to continue east and maybe a litlte southeast. Morning upper air analysis shows heights below 594dm at 500mb across the Gulf. With the incoming shortwave trof, heights should fall across parts of the southeast U.S./Gulf by Tuesday. This should allow Ernesto to recurve towards Florida with landfall expected Thursday morning.
Lots of time left for things to change, but model agreement certainly helps for this forecast cycle.
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