“Enough with Ernesto!” cry my loyal readers (or at least one of them). “Give us something… less lame!” I hear you, I hear you. Well, if the music-related posts earlier this evening aren’t enough, how about this?
I looked up all the preseason polls I could find, and Notre Dame comes out the consensus No. 1 preseason pick in college football. More polls picked the Fighting Irish No. 1 than any other team.
Yet I have to wonder: What is it that makes us so enamored with Notre Dame this year? The Irish went only 9-3 last season and did not beat one ranked team. Their defense Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the thing you win championships with Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was not very good, and their pass coverage was horrendous. On top of that, the Irish gave up 617 yards in the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State, the team some think they could face for the national championship. Have we been drinking too much of that Irish Kool-Aid?
Maybe so, but you had better count me in. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve taken a front-row seat on that Fighting Irish bandwagon. They are legitimate contenders for the national championship.
It’ll be midnight in a half-hour, at which point there will be only 2 days left until college football season begins! WOOHOO!!! Yes, that’s right, the season starts on Thursday — and I hope you’re all as excited as I am about the season-opening Boston College-Central Michigan tilt at 6:30 PM. To say nothing of Temple-Buffalo at 7:00 (combined record last year: 1-21), and at 7:30, the Southern New England grudge match: Connecticut vs. Rhode Island! I hear they’re calling it the “DINO-RINO Bowl,” in honor of Senators Lieberman and Chafee. :) Hehe… just kidding, Joe!!
As of 11:00 PM, the NHC is no longer forecasting an aborted recurvature by Tropical Storm Ernesto. The left-hand turn has been replaced by a straight line. There goes pillar #1 supporting my shameless speculation about a New York Nightmare Scenario. And pillar #2, the belief that Ernesto’s right-of-the-forecast trend would continue, isn’t looking too good either:
ERNESTO HAS BEEN MOVING TO THE LEFT OF THE PREVIOUS FORECAST…AND THIS REQUIRES A SLIGHT WESTWARD SHIFT OF THE FORECAST TRACK. … SOME [FURTHER] SLIGHT WESTWARD TRACK ADJUSTMENTS [COULD BE] IN THE OFFING.
D’oh! Well, it was a good theory for the 3 hours that it lasted. :)
The other headline out of the 11pm advisory is that it looks increasingly unlikely Ernesto will ever live up to the hype… which is, of course, a good thing:
THE RADAR DATA SHOW A GRADUAL DETERIORATION IN THE ORGANIZATION OF ERNESTO…AND SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS ONLY VERY LIMITED DEEP CONVECTION WITH THE SYSTEM. THE UPPER-LEVEL LOW NEAR ANDROS APPEARS TO BE ADVECTING DRY AIR INTO THE CYCLONE…WHICH MAY ACCOUNT FOR THE ANEMIC CONVECTION. THIS LOW IS FORECAST TO MOVE OUT AND WEAKEN OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS…LEAVING ERNESTO UNDER LIGHT EASTERLY SHEAR. THIS WOULD FAVOR GRADUAL INTENSIFICATION AFTER THE CENTER CLEARS THE COASTS…BUT THE UPPER WINDS WOULD NOT SEEM TO FAVOR RAPID DEVELOPMENT. THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST IS A BLEND OF THE SHIPS AND GFDL GUIDANCE…AND REPRESENTS A DOWNWARD ADJUSTMENT FROM THE PREVIOUS PACKAGE. ALTHOUGH THERE IS STILL SOME CHANCE THAT ERNESTO COULD BECOME A HURRICANE BEFORE REACHING FLORIDA…THE LIKLIHOOD OF THIS IS DIMINISHING.
The only bad part about Ernesto potentially not living up to the hype is that some folks who don’t understand hurricanes, and the inherent uncertainty involved in forecasting them, will claim that it was patently ridiculous for anyone to ever be afraid of this thing in the first place. Which isn’t true. There was legitimate reason to believe that it could have posed a threat, and legitimate reason to put people on their guard. (Indeed, people should still be on their guard, from Florida to the Carolinas at least. It ain’t over till it’s over!) Sometimes, though, those fickle air molecules blow around in such a way that we luck out. When that happens, we shouldn’t gripe about hype; we should be grateful, and leave it at that.
P.S. Mark Sudduth at Hurricane Track sums things up well:
The way things look now, Ernesto will have a tough time surviving the night. Haiti first and then Cuba have both done a number on the inner core of the cyclone and without that engine running smoothly, it cannot rev up. This spells very good news for people in south Florida and possibly even farther north (the Carolinas). While we don’t want to ignore this storm, it does appear that it will be hard for Ernesto to make any kind of a significant run at becoming a hurricane. I tell you, if it weren’t for the Greater Antilles, the United States and Bahamas would be in bad shape from hurricanes that ran aground in the mountain nations. Still, we will need to be ready just in case Ernesto pulls some last minute intensity increase- better to be prepared than not. … Once clear of Florida, the storm should make its way in to the Carolinas though it is unlikely it will be a hurricane- but you never know.
Meanwhile, Alan Sullivan is looking ahead… way ahead:
I just ran the 16 day GFS model. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bad, projecting about six inches of rain for Norfolk this weekend, with ErnestoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s remnant moving slowly up the coast. It also shows another hurricane Ã¢â‚¬â€ a really big one Ã¢â‚¬â€ approaching the East Coast [in two weeks].
This is what he’s talking about:
Proto-Florence? Proto-Gordon? Proto-Helene?
Needless to say, this is ridiculously, indeed redonkulously speculative… sort of like giving a detailed breakdown of the offensive and defensive matchups in your anticipated Ohio State-West Virginia national title game, and a gametime weather forecast to boot. :) Still, it’s fun to look at the pretty colors on the map.
Last but not least, on a somewhat related note, Dr. Jeff Masters gives us an interesting and helpful lesson in what the various computer models are, how they work, etc.
Regular readers may remember a previous post in which I sung the praises of the country band Sugarland, and lamented that they weren’t touring anywhere near Phoenix over the summer. So you can imagine I was delighted to discover that they’re playing this Friday in Milwaukee, which is close enough to South Bend that I can plausibly call it “driving distance.” Yeah, it’s a long way to go for a concert — but hey, it’s a holiday weekend (although, don’t tell the law school schedulers that!), the tickets were only $15 a pop, and the concert features both Sugarland and Brooks & Dunn! So, what the heck? Why not? Maybe we can make a day of it, and tour the Miller Brewery before heading back on Saturday. :) (Seriously, anyone with suggestions about things to do in Milwaukee, leave ‘em in comments!)
Even better than that, though, was my discovery on Friday that Tommy Makem is coming back to Notre Dame! He’s playing at the DPAC on the Friday before the Michigan game. Makem has been a lifelong favorite (of my dad’s, and subsequently, of mine too), and last fall I had an awesome time at a Makem concert at DPAC — but the plan was so last-minute that I was unable to drag Becky along. This time, I’m prepared, and tomorrow I plan to call the box office and order two tickets. I’ve also added the concert to my list of countdown dates at left.
Alas, the timing of the Makem concert means I won’t be able to see the Surreal McCoys in their return visit to South Bend, at Club 22/JT’s Sports Bar and Grill that same night (opening act from 7-10, McCoys “to follow”). And another “alas” for the timing of the Barra MacNeils’ visit to Chicago the next day, which conflicts directly with the ND-Michigan game. (The concert is from 1:50 to ~3:00 EDT, the game starts at 3:30 EDT, and it takes 2 hours, on a non-football day, to get from Chicago to South Bend.) I’m really bummed about that, since the Barras — unlike my other favorite Maritime Canadian band, Great Big Sea — so rarely tour in the States. But I ain’t missing the Michigan game!!
Still, I’m really excited about Sugarland, Brooks & Dunn and Makem. It’s going to be a fun few weeks of music!
The SoCal VoCals have a new album out. Woohoo!
Sean’s post below pretty much covers the short- and medium-term Ernesto forecast, but what interests me most about the 5:00 PM track is the long-term forecast. Between 96 and 120 hours (i.e., on Friday and Saturday), the NHC is now predicting an overland left-hand turn:
That’s pretty rare. Normally, once hurricanes start recurving, they don’t stop. That’s what I’ve observed over the years, anyway, and it’s one reason why New England and New York landfalls are so rare: they virtually require an aborted recurvature. So this is an unusual forecast, it seems to me. But the NHC doesn’t really explain why they’re forecasting it. The discussion simply states:
IN 3-5 DAYS THE OFFICIAL TRACK HAS BEEN SHIFTED WESTWARD IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LATEST MODEL CONSENSUS.
That’s true; see for example this model map. But, again, why is the model consensus calling for an abrupt left-hand turn in the middle of a would-be recurvature? Off the top of my head, my guess would be that the models foresee a blocking high-pressure system that will prevent Ernesto from recurving all the way out to sea — and the AVN’s 120-hour forecast seems to confirm that:
If we assume that the presence of the blocking high pressure system is an immutable fact, whereas the exact trajectory of Ernesto over the next few days is still very much in question, doesn’t this bring New York and New England into play? I find myself again thinking about yesterday’s truism, “the trend is your friend,” and specifically, Ernesto’s almost Liebermanesque :) tendency to lean just to the right of where he’s expected to go. What if Ernesto’s actual track (through 96 hours) takes him roughly along the far right edge of the current track “cone,” but then on Friday, he runs into that blocking high — and makes a Lamontish :) turn to the left, toward Long Island or thereabouts?
Thus far with Ernesto, I’ve talked about nightmare scenarios involving New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Key West and Miami, none of which now seem likely to come to pass. Is it time to bust out the ultimate worst-case scenario: the New York nightmare? (Let’s hear it for fear-mongering! :)
Is a landfall in the Northeastern U.S. likely? No. But is it plausible? I’m thinking yes, but I’m curious what others think. I could be way off here. Thoughts?
Incidentally, for more on Ernesto, including a discussion of the possibility that we’re all engaging in a bit of excessive post-Katrina hype here, check out this post by Brian Neudorff, an Indiana native and Purdue grad who is now a meteorologist at WJET-TV in Erie, PA, and whose blog I just added to my hurricane blogroll. Good stuff. See also his Katrina anniversary post. And speaking of the Katrina anniversary, don’t forget to keep visiting Margie Kieper’s blog!
P.S. Yes, the waters get cold up north. But don’t forget about the Gulf Stream! If Ernesto follows the eastern edge of the guidance envelope, it could pass right over those warm waters — which have an almost otherwordly tendency to give hurricanes a huge jolt of energy — before turning left and heading north.
P.P.S. Again, a caveat: I’m NOT PREDICTING ANYTHING! I’m just thinking out loud here.
Fortunately, it appears that Ernesto’s circulation has been largely disrupted by the storm’s passage over Cuba. This may spare Florida a hurricane, although it’s too early to tell. From the 5 pm NHC discussion:
THE SYSTEM BECAME QUITE DISORGANIZED… WITH MOST OF THE DEEP CONVECTION LEFT BEHIND NEAR THE EASTERN TIP OF CUBA. SOME OF THIS DISORGANIZATION MAY BE DUE TO THE INFLUENCE OF A SMALL UPPER LOW JUST TO THE NORTH-NORTHWEST OF ERNESTO. RECENTLY…HOWEVER…SOME NEW CELLS OF DEEP CONVECTION ARE NOW DEVELOPING NEAR THE ESTIMATED CENTER. WE EXPECT SOME RE-STRENGTHENING TO OCCUR AFTER ERNESTO MOVES OVER THE ATLANTIC WATERS TO THE NORTH OF CUBA. HOWEVER SINCE THE INNER CORE HAS BEEN DISRUPTED BY THE CYCLONE’S PASSAGE OVER LAND…IT IS NOT ANTICIPATED THAT THIS STRENGTHENING WILL BE RAPID. IN FACT…THE SHIPS-BASED RAPID INTENSIFICATION INDEX SHOWS A LESS THAN 20 PERCENT CHANCE FOR RAPID STRENGTHENING. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST GOES WITH A BLEND OF THE SHIPS…GFDL…AND FSU SUPERENSEMBLE GUIDANCE AND KEEPS THE SYSTEM JUST BELOW HURRICANE STRENGTH BEFORE THE FORECAST LANDFALL IN SOUTHERN FLORIDA.
My best guess is for a very wet tropical storm with maximum winds of 60 mph hitting the Everglades.
The NHC’s wind speed probability table still shows a 45% chance of hurricane strength in 36 hours. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida Atlantic coast south of Vero Beach, the Florida Gulf coast south of Chokoloskee, and the Florida Keys. In addition, a tropical storm watch is in effect on the Gulf coast from Chokoloskee to Englewood, and a hurricane watch is in effect on the Atlantic coast from Vero Beach to New Smyrna Beach. Florida residents should continue monitoring this storm closely.
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The Palm Beach Post’s Bob King says, “for the record, I don’t like that new forecast track one bit.”
But Ernesto is only expected to just barely attain Category 1 hurricane strength before hitting the Miami area. (Then again, remember how much damage Katrina did to that area as a Cat. 1 last year.) However, The Storm Track says:
I hate to keep bringing up the same point, but the models are terrible at forecasting rapid intensification and this is a distinct possibility with Ernesto once it moves off of Cuba. I am sticking with my forecast from the previous post of landfall near Homestead as a borderline Category 2-3 hurricane.
I’m not prepared to make such a forecast, but I do think rapid intensification is a possibility. Here’s a look at the sea-surface temperatures and oceanic heat content maps for the track Ernesto is expected to follow:
At least one computer model (the GFDN, I think) is forecasting some very rapid intensification:
The key question is just how thoroughly disorganized Ernesto becomes over Cuba. If it totally falls apart (which seems quite possible), it could take a significant amount of time just to get its act back together — not strengthening, just reorganizing — once it re-emerges over water. If that’s the case, it may not have time to rapidly intensitfy.
The 11 am NHC discussion just came out, and discusses Ernesto’s track over Cuba:
ERNESTO MADE LANDFALL ON THE SOUTHEASTERN CUBAN COAST NEAR PLAYA CAZONAL…JUST WEST OF GUANTANAMO…AROUND 1200 UTC. THE CENTER IS NOW MOVING OVER EXTREME EASTERN CUBA…WHERE THERE IS MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. SOME MORE WEAKENING IS LIKELY BEFORE THE CENTER MOVES BACK OVER WATER TO THE NORTH OF CUBA. ONCE THE CENTER EMERGES OVER WATER…RE-STRENGTHENING IS LIKELY IN A FAVORABLE UPPER-LEVEL ENVIRONMENT OF WEAK NORTHEASTERLY SHEAR. THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST IS GENERALLY ABOVE THE SHIPS GUIDANCE AND CLOSE TO THE LATEST GFDL FORECAST…AND CALLS FOR A CATEGORY 1 HURRICANE APPROACHING SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA. HOWEVER IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THERE IS LIMITED SKILL IN FORECASTING TROPICAL CYCLONE INTENSITY.
There’s a strange quality to following Ernesto. The storm itself isn’t all that impressive right now. From the 8 am NHC advisory:
ERNESTO MOVING ONSHORE OVER SOUTHEASTERN CUBA …
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE DECREASED TO NEAR 45 MPH…75 KM/HR…WITH HIGHER GUSTS. ADDITIONAL WEAKENING IS LIKELY AS ERNESTO MOVES OVER LAND TODAY.
With this storm, what matters most is track projection, not current wind speed. The 5 am NHC discussion paints the track a little more definite:
THE NHC MODEL GUIDANCE HAS COME INTO BETTER AGREEMENT ON A POSSIBLE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHERN PENINSULA OF FLORIDA IN ABOUT 48 HOURS. THE 00Z MODEL RUNS HAVE THE LATEST NOAA GULFSTREAM-IV JET AIRCRAFT DROPSONDE DATA IN THEM…AND THIS MAY EXPLAIN THE BETTER AGREEMENT AND STRONGER CONVERGENCE OF THE LATEST MODEL SOLUTIONS AS COMPARED TO PREVIOUS MODEL RUNS. THE FORECAST TRACK WAS SHIFTED A LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OR EAST OF THE PREVIOUS TRACK BASED ON THE MORE NORTHWARD POSITION NOTED IN RECON AND RADAR DATA…AND THE EASTWARD SHIFT IN THE MODEL GUIDANCE.
The NHC forecast map projects Ernesto to make landfall near the southern tip of the Everglades, with a northward track over Lake Okechobee and then emerging over the Atlantic around Daytona Beach — still at hurricane strength. Of course, this is just a projection with all the usual caveats and qualifications … but it could make life interesting for Florida’s entire east coast, from Miami to Jacksonville.
The 5 am discussion notes the extreme uncertainty in the intensity forecast:
THE INTENSITY FORECAST REMAINS QUITE COMPLICATED DUE TO POSSIBLE LAND INTERACTIONS WITH CUBA. IF ERNESTO EMERGES SOONER AND A LITTLE FARTHER NORTH OFF THE COAST OF CUBA…THEN THE CYCLONE WILL HAVE MORE TIME TO STRENGTHEN OVER VERY WARM SSTS OF 86-88F AND IN A VERY FAVORABLE UPPER-LEVEL FLOW REGIME. THE SHIPS INTENSITY MODEL IS FORECASTING NEAR-ZERO VERTICAL WIND SHEAR…JUST AS ERNESTO IS APPROACHING THE SOUTHERN FLORIDA PENINSULA IN 48 HOURS. THESE CONDITIONS WOULD FAVOR THE POSSIBILITY OF ERNESTO BECOMING A CATEGORY 2 OR EVEN A CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE BEFORE MAKING LANDFALL ALONG THE FLORIDA COAST.
Dr. Jeff Masters looks at the historical record of storms on similar tracks across Cuba, and feels that Ernesto won’t have much punch over Florida, and the main danger may be further up the coast — around the Carolinas:
So, history is against Ernesto becoming anything stronger than a Category 1 hurricane upon landfall in South Florida, and I believe landfall as a tropical storm is more likely. If Ernesto does take a more westerly track up the west coast of Florida towards Sarasota, landfall as a Category 1 hurricane could occur …
While much of the focus of attention has deservedly been on Ernesto’s impact on Florida, I believe the best chance of Ernesto hitting the U.S. as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane will come in the Carolinas. The GFDL model has Ernesto as a borderline Category 1 or 2 hurricane with a pressure of 975 mb Thursday night upon landfall in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, at Cape Canaveral, NASA is preparing to move the space shuttle Atlantis from launch pad 39-B to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which would provide more protection from hurricance-force winds. Atlantis had been scheduled for launch on Sunday afternoon — until the launch pad took a titanic 100,000-amp lightning strike on Friday. NASA postponed Sunday’s launch to check the shuttle for damage — apparently it’s ok — but that gave Ernesto time to bear down on the space center. For awhile, NASA technicians were working simultaneously to prepare Atlantis for a Tuesday launch attempt — and an emergency rollback to the VAB (that had to be really confusing!). But NASA has now elected to focus on the rollback option. From Spaceflight Now’s mission status center:
NASA had been targeting the 4-mile rollback of Atlantis to begin around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. But given the weather outlook, Leinbach has told the teams to look at ways to do some work in parallel so that the timeline could be compressed. That would allow the shuttle to begin the 6-to-8-hour trip back to the Vehicle Assembly Building around 8 or 10 a.m. EDT.
Hurricane force winds are expected at Kennedy Space Center by late afternoon or early evening on Wednesday.
A rollback could have lots of interesting domino effects on the space program. After Atlantis returns to the launch pad, it would take about eight days to prepare the shuttle for launch. If Atlantis is not launched by September 7, the next Russian spacecraft returning to Earth would have to land at night, which they don’t want to have happen. And if Atlantis is not launched by September 13, there would be only three days in the rest of 2006 with the proper lighting conditions for this shuttle launch.
Ernesto may be a weak storm over Cuba on an uncertain track, but it’s already causing havoc in the space program. But this is evidence of the fact that distant storms have to be taken seriously, even if it causes inconvenience, because they can hit quickly and cause lots of damage if the proper preparations aren’t made. NASA knows this, and is acting responsibly.
Those of you who know Brendan may be aware that he was chosen as Homecoming King his Senior year of high school. Well one Australian boy has just upstaged him, and every other male on the planet. Daniel Dibley, who attends Bathurst High School, in Bathurst Australia will be taking Jennifer Hawkins of Newcastle, Australia to his schools 12th year formal dance. Whats so special about Miss Hawkins? Well there is the fact that she was 2004’s Miss Universe. How did Daniel manage this one you ask? Well, simple, he wrote a letter and asked.
Their stadium has the world’s largest HDTV screen.
Haiti took a serious toll on Ernesto today, dropping it to a weak tropical storm with 50 mph winds as of 11:00 PM — and it’s probably not even that strong, according to the NHC discussion:
THE RECONNAISSANCE MISSION ENDED AROUND 00Z…AND THE HIGHEST WINDS THE AIRCRAFT COULD FIND WERE 41 KT. THEY WERE UNABLE TO GET NORTHEAST OF THE CENTER DUE TO LAND…SO IT IS POSSIBLE THEY DID NOT SAMPLE THE STRONGEST WINDS. NEVERTHELESS…THE ADVISORY INTENSITY ESTIMATE OF 45 KT IS PROBABLY HIGH. IN GENERAL…THE SATELLITE DEPICTION OF ERNESTO IS NOT AS STRONG AS IT WAS EARLIER IN THE DAY…WITH LITTLE BANDING AND CLOUD TOPS THAT HAVE WARMED SOMEWHAT.
So, Ernesto has pretty much fallen apart. But, what now? Will it reorganize in the 9-12 hours over open water before hitting Cuba? There are differing opinions about that. From the NHC:
SHOULD ERNESTO NOT REGAIN MUCH ORGANIZATION BEFORE REACHING CUBA…IT IS POSSIBLE THAT NOT A LOT WILL BE LEFT OF THE CYCLONE WHEN IT EMERGES INTO THE FLORIDA STRAITS. HOWEVER…THE UPPER-LEVEL WINDS REMAIN CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT…AND THE OFFICIAL FORECAST WILL ASSUME A VIGOROUS RESTRENGTHENING OVERNIGHT TONIGHT AND A SUBSTANTIAL CYCLONE SURVIVING THE PASSAGE OVER CUBA.
Alan Sullivan predicts:
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only a short stretch of warm open water ahead of Ernesto, then the mountains of southeastern Cuba will weaken the storm further. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible that Ernesto will lose its surface circulation and dissipate into tropical wave, but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably enough upper level structure to regenerate the storm over the Florida Straits. I would be surprised if Ernesto ever becomes a major hurricane.
It has weakened enough to where it may just redevelop on the north coast of Cuba. Otherwise it should weaken, maybe even to a depression, and drift across Cuba. … [T]he satellite signature and overall profile of the storm does not suggest it will do anything but remain weak until it can get a little distance from mountainous land, then reintensify.
The entire Florida coast, Cuba, and the Bahamas are still under the gun. Ernesto can spin up just as fast as it spun down.
What do I predict? I predict unpredictability; I suggest expecting the unexpected. :) Ernesto has been confounding forecasters for its entire life, so I’m not putting too much stock in anyone’s predictions at this point. All I can say is, stay tuned.
I want to start this post with a caveat: I’m not predicting that Ernesto will hit Miami. I just think the possibility is worth discussing, if we’re going to discuss worst-case scenarios. Certainly, there is no need for anyone in any particular location to panic. And, in terms of preparations, everyone within the forecast cone (which includes virtually all of Florida, and in the longer term, the entire East Coast up to the Delmarva), not just Miami and environs, should be getting ready for a possible strike. It’s also quite possible that Ernesto will so weaken over Cuba, it won’t be a major issue for anybody in the United States. All that said, however…
Earlier, I speculated about the possibility that Ernesto could be the nightmare hurricane for Key West and/or Tampa Bay. With the storm’s rapid weakening over Haiti, however, that seems less likely (though not impossible). But what about Miami?
At present, the official NHC forecast has Ernesto heading toward the west coast of Florida (specifically, the southwest coast). But the computer model tracks — and, consequently, the NHC forecasts — have been consistently trending further and further to the right over the last day or two:
It would only take a relatively small additional rightward deviation to bring Miami into the target zone:
That blue line is just a hypothetical “what if?” scenario, drawn by me and based on nothing scientific. That said, a couple of the computer models are predicting pretty much this very scenario (though I should point out that it is never a good idea to rely on a particular computer model for planning purposes).
As always, if the storm’s center comes in just to the left of the area of concern, in this case Miami, that would be the worst scenario in terms of both wind and storm surge.
Anyway… Margie Kieper recently cited the saying “the trend is your friend” — a financial motto which, in this context, reflects the lesson that when the computer models keep consistently shifting in a particular direction, looking at the forecast trend can be more helpful than looking at any one individual forecast. I’ve noticed this too, plenty of times over the years. In this case, it could potentially suggest that betting on a landfall east of the current “center line” in the NHC forecast track might be a good bet.
A Miami scenario wouldn’t just bring Ernesto toward one of America’s most vulnerable cities. It would also decrease the amount of time the center spends over land, and increase the amount of water available for it to restrengthen after exiting Cuba. In addition, the sea-surface temperatures between east-central Cuba and the Miami area are somewhat warmer than the SSTs between west-central Cuba and southwestern Florida, raising the possibility of greater strengthening:
Likewise the overall heat potential of the water:
On the other hand, such a track would also take Ernesto over higher terrain in Cuba, perhaps increasing the odds of the storm falling apart completely.
Also possibly going against my Miami theory is this line from the 11pm EDT discussion:
THERE COULD BE SOME SHIFTS WHEN THE 00Z MODELS COME OUT…AS THEY WILL HAVE THE BENEFIT OF DROPSONDE DATA FROM THE NOAA G-IV JET AND AN AIR FORCE C-130. A QUICK LOOK AT SOME OF THE 500 MB DATA SHOWS SOMEWHAT HIGHER HEIGHTS IN THE BAHAMAS THAN FORECAST BY THE GFS…SO I WOULDN’T BE TOO SURPRISED TO SEE THE 00Z MODELS SHIFT A LITTLE TO THE LEFT.
The 5:00 AM advisory will tell the tale. In the mean time, as long as the “trend” remains consistent, I’ll continue wondering about Miami.