27 August 2006

Debby dissipating, Ernesto now a hurricane...

Debby has been slowly decaying, and is now a convectionless 25kt vortex with a 1012mb MSLP.  It's heading north into the extratropical realm of the north central Atlantic.  Strong vertical shear has overwhelmed moderate SSTs.  By Monday-Tuesday, Debby will have lost its identity as it's absorbed by a mid-latitude front.

Ernesto was upgraded to a hurricane on Sunday morning... the first hurricane of the Atlantic season!  As of this writing, it is located on the far western tip of Haiti, heading for Jamaica later today.  Intensity is 65kts and 997mb and motion is NW at 8kts.  Microwave imagery from earlier this morning revealed what appears to be either a very tightly-wound spiral band or the embryonic stages of eyewall development.

The deep-layer shear (850-200mb) has relaxed immensely, thanks to a maturing anticyclone sitting directly over the low-mid-level cyclone.  Now that those ingredients are aligned, further intensification will occur more readily -- also, oceanic heat content along the projected track of Ernesto is astronomical... VERY deep warm water will provide a boundless source of energy.  The only thing hindering explosive development is land interaction (Jamiaca, Cuba), which should put a brake on rapid intensification.  By Tuesday morning however, Ernesto will have cleared Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico, potentially poised for rapid development as it heads toward the US coast.

As of now, the forecast track takes it into Tampa, FL on Thursday morning as a strong hurricane.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands... and a Hurricane Warning is in effect for southern Haiti and eastern Cuba.  A Hurricane Watch/Warning maybe added for western Florida and western Cuba later today.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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