Tropical Storm Ernesto update 28 Aug 0530L

August 28, 2006

A hurricane watch is now up for southern Florida from Deerfield Beach on the east coast around to Chokolostkee on the west coast. The Florida Keys are also under a hurricane watch.

While the strength of Ernesto as rated by the National Hurricane Center (50 mph) has not changed it is likely that in actuality it has increased (in the sense that it was probably under 50 mph at 11 PM last night, but there was not a recon plane in the storm to confirm that). Pressure has fallen to 1002 millibars and the reconnaisance plane currently in the storm should be able to squeeze in one last past in the northwest quadrant to see what Ernesto’s strongest winds before he goes ashore in Cuba.

My previous post discusses what the forecast models output last night so I won’t discuss that here, but I will tie in some ideas from that post, so one may want to scroll down and read it before continuing here.

The NHC forecast brings Ernesto into the United States as a category one hurricane. It gives Ernesto a little less time over Cuba than the models were forecasting, perhaps because of yet another reformation of the center that moved Ernesto a little further north than its northwest movement would have taken it. The forecast discussion contains a caveat similar to the one in my previous post and notes that if Ernesto clears Cuba faster than expected, it could become a category two or three hurricane, owing to extremely favorable atmospheric conditions.

Even though the forecast models were fed with the upper air data, which generally improves the quality of the forecast (and certainly helped reduce the spread in the models), there are still things that are beyond the ability of the models to predict (such as the aforementioned center reformation).  Because of that, one could reasonably expect a track error of say 25 miles over a 24 hour period. Normally that would not be a big deal, but owing to the narrowness of Cuba, that is the difference between being over land and being over water. This forecast is an extremely close run thing in the near term.

As always, refer to the National Hurricane Center for the latest and greatest official updates on Ernesto. Residents of south Florida should also check the page of Miami National Weather Service Office for local statements).

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