Ernesto Barely a Tropical Storm
At 10:00am CDT:
– A hurricane watch was in effect along Florida’s east coast to New Smyrna Beach and on Florida’s west coast from Chokoloskee southward. A hurricane watch remains for the Florida Keys.
– Hurricane warnings may be required later today from NHC.
– Tropical Storm Ernesto was located 35 miles west-northwest of Guantanamo, Cuba. Movement is towards the northwest at 10mph, maximum sustained winds are near 40mph, and minimum surface pressure is 1006mb.
Ernesto has been almost destroyed by the high terrain of Haiti the past 24 hours. Now, this system is moving onshore at Cuba, where it will spend about 12 hours. Given that Ernesto has not strengthened at all in the past 24 hours and it is over land, it may weaken to a depression before leaving Cuba. Once it leaves Cuba it will be over very warm water of 86-88F SST. This coupled with a low shear environment should allow this system to reorganize. The big question is how much can it reorganize before making landfall in Florida. NHC brings it to hurricane status just before landfall in Florida. Not a bad call and for now will go with low-end Cat 1 and a landfall around 1:00am Wednesday near the southeast coast of Florida.
As noted from the above paragraph, NHC’s has shifted the forecast track east. Almost all the models are clustered on a Florida landfall by Wednesday morning. Only the BAMD is off and that solution is ignored. Current thinking is that Ernesto will barely make landfall before moving north-northeast up the eastern coast. If this is the case, there seems potential for a third landfall in the Carolinas. However, this is way out there and Ernesto has to survive Cuba first. I disagree with NHC’s intensity forecast; but for the sake of consistency, I’ll follow it. Too date no Atlantic system has reached the intensity progged by NHC or the models. Ernesto so far is on that same track, although it may very well become a hurricane before hitting Florida on Wednesday. None of the three models that appropriately weaken Ernesto over Cuba restrengthen it to a hurricane before landfall on Wednesday.
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