Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Ernesto's Looming Yucatan Landfall

Ernesto finally achieved what took a bit longer than some thought -- hurricane status this afternoon in the Western Caribbean...it is the second hurricane of the season so far and will be the first hurricane to make landfall when it comes ashore along the Mayan Riviera late tonight.

The storm sports 80 mph max winds as of mid afternoon and has shown impressive signs of further strengthening...it should continue to strengthen until landfall and one can't rule out a Category 2 storm (96-110 mph max) at landfall.

Impressive for a storm that 48 hours ago looked like it was on the edge of perhaps falling apart thanks to a dry environment and a fast movement aloft. The storm worked out of that dry island in the atmosphere and slowed down, which allowed the circulation time to gather energy, moisture, and strength over one of the best spots for tropical development in the Western Hemisphere. Ernesto will cross the Yucatan, re-emerging in the Gulf of Mexico in a weakened state thanks to land interaction.

Since the storm has tracked a bit north of guidance today, it's possible its final landfall point in Mexico might be a nudge farther north than model consensus...but likely still quite far south of the US-Mexico border. The only "model" suggesting a trek into the US is a climatological & persistence track model that blends time of year with recent track heading...it typically is a major outlier. However, the model blend from earlier today may be a bit too far south. Regardless, it should have enough time to strengthen somewhat again in the Gulf before final landfall point.

More: Tracking Tropics