By: charlottefl , 2:35 PM GMT on August 04, 2012
The 2012 hurricane season is in full swing now, with 2 tropical storms in the Atlantic: Ernesto, and Florence, and 91L off the east coast of Florida. We are rapidly heading towards the Sept 10th peak of hurricane season, and the Atlantic has sprung to life once again, right on cue.
Ernesto developed near the Windward islands and has since been moving West at a fairly rapid pace ~18mph. Although it has had a nice presentation on satellite, showing a developing tropical storm, recently dry air has begun to invade the outer portion of the storm. This dry air will likely continue to inhibit significant intensification, and may even act to weaken Ernesto until the storm can moisten the area around it and mix out the dry air from it's circulation.
(Dry air as evidenced by the large area of orange to the West of Ernesto)
Track and Intensity
The longer term fate of Ernesto is more uncertain. I think it is very likely that as with many storms in this area of the Caribbean, Ernesto will continue to struggle to organize until it reaches the Western Caribbean. Once the storm pulls away from the continental land mass of South America, mixes out the dry air interfering with development, and gets into the Western Caribbean it should find itself in a more favorable environment to strengthen. If the storm can gain enough latitude (we'll get to that in a minute) to get into the NW Caribbean TCHP is extremely high,and the risk of RI greatly increases.
There are two scenarios playing out as far as model guidance is concerned. One camp brings Ernesto the the WNW across the Yucatan peninsula into the Bay of Campeche, keeping the current steering setup, and the other takes Ernesto on a more poleward track though the warm waters of the NW Caribbean into the Central Gulf of Mexico, possibly as the result of a weakness in the ridge created by 91L. Which camp is right?? Too soon to tell at this point. However as long as this split exists, if I lived along the Gulf Coast from Northern Mexico/S. TX to the Western part of the Florida panhandle I would closely monitor the progress of Ernesto. The models should been in better agreement in a day or two once 91L crosses FL, and it is seen what if any impact the system has on the steering flow.
As far as the rest of the tropics are concerned 91L will be mostly a rain threat until it clears the FL peninsula, and tropical storm Florence is far away from any potential impact to anyone. If things change I'll try and bring a more detailed update on these systems.
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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.