29 August 2006

Ernesto heading for Florida...

The center of Ernesto's circulation finally exited north central Cuba at 06Z this morning (2am EDT).  Deep convection has been somewhat sparse and slow to come back, but it is gradually increasing in coverage as more of the storm arrives over the ocean.  The ocean is at least 26C down to a depth of 80m in the Florida Straight, and the SST is a tad over 30C, so there's no shortage of energy for the storm, just a shortage of time.

You can track the progress of the storm via Miami's long-range radar at: http://einstein.atmos.colostate.edu/~mcnoldy/tropics/ernesto06/Ernesto_29Aug06.gif
(updating loop, new frame added every 6 minutes or so, beginning at 12Z this morning)

At 15Z this morning, the tropical storm was located at 23.3N 79.5W and tracking NW at 11kts.  It only has a generous 24 hours over ocean before hitting the southern tip of the FL peninsula, so at this point, intensification to a hurricane seems very unlikely (it's at 40kts and 1005mb now).  As of the latest official forecast, the Keys are in the center of the track "cone", but for a storm without an eye, that doesn't matter so much -- all of southern FL will experience stormy weather beginning today and going into tomorrow.  Threats of inland flooding and tornadoes are the highest.

After making its way northward across FL, the forecast takes it up into SC, around Charleston, again as a strong Tropical Storm (a minimal hurricane isn't out of the question).

A tropical wave that exited Africa on Sunday is now located at about 12N 29W.  It's moving west, and the environment is favorable for slow development.

And last but not least, this morning is the one-year anniversary of Katrina's landfall on Mississippi and Louisiana... and although not the strongest or deadliest landfall, it was the costliest disaster in US history, by far.  You can view the radar-based view of that fateful landfall at http://einstein.atmos.colostate.edu/~mcnoldy/tropics/katrina/Katrina_29Aug05.gif

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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