[UPDATE/CORRECTION, 4:55 PM: It’s time for another “Oh…nevermind” moment. From the 5:00 PM discussion:
DURING THE DAY…ERNESTO BECAME SOMEWHAT MORE ORGANIZED-LOOKING ON RADAR AND SATELLITE IMAGES. RECENTLY…HOWEVER…THE PRESENTATION HAS BECOME A BIT RAGGED-LOOKING ON THE IMAGERY. FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS HAVE NOT INCREASED…AND THE FALL IN CENTRAL PRESSURE THIS AFTERNOON WAS ROUGHLY COMMENSURATE WITH THE TYPICAL SEMI-DIURNAL PRESSURE CHANGE. IN OTHER WORDS…ERNESTO IS NOT STRENGTHENING.
Hey, I can’t always be right! :) The NHC also does not appear to be sold on the heading-toward-the-Gulf theory.]
Adam Moyer at The Storm Track says Ernesto is strengthening:
The SFMR aboard the NOAA42 P-3 research aircraft has found surface winds of 55 kts to the east of the center of circulation. Ernesto is becoming much better organized by the hour.
But the big story is that some computer models are taking Ernesto west of the present NHC forecast track, through the Keys and toward the Florida west coast, which could spell trouble because it would give the storm time to strengthen as it rakes the coastline en route to Tampa Bay. Yikes! And the radar loop kinda makes it look like that’s the direction it’s headed:
Please be patient; it may take the animation a few moments to load.
Here’s what Moyer says:
The model forecasts are bimodal this morning. The global models (e.g. GFS, UKMET, Canadian, etc.) are forecasting a landfall early tomorrow morning in the Florida Keys. However, the statistical-dynamical (S-D) models (e.g. the BAMs, LBAR, etc.) are forecasting a landfall tomorrow night near or south of Tampa. Ordinarily, I would dismiss the S-D models as being out to lunch. Here, though, is where the S-D models shine. When a storm is poorly organized and not initialized well in the global models, as Ernesto is right now, the S-D models often have as good, if not better forecasts for a tropical storm. Admittedly, this particular model run has me quite confused.
he intensity forecast is where things get really sticky. If the global models are right, Ernesto will not have much time to intensify and would come ashore on the Keys as moderate to strong tropical storm, since Ernesto is just now starting to reorganize itself. However, if the S-D models are right about the track, Ernesto will have plenty of time to get its act together. That would be bad news for the Gulf coast of Florida. Should the S-D models be correct and Ernesto has 36 hours to spend over the open water, the dreaded rapid intensification is back in the picture again. Currently, the SHIPS forecast has a probability of 32% for rapid intensification. While not high, it is also not insignificant. Should rapid intensification occur, Ernesto could easily be a Category 2 hurricane or higher at landfall on the Gulf coast. At the moment, the intensity models are all forecasting Ernesto to be a strong tropical storm as it makes landfall in the Keys (Figure 4). Obviously, in the models, the S-D solution has not been accounted for. Should the global models’ track be correct, the intensity forecast is more or less correct. If not, Ernesto has the possibility of becoming a major event for the Gulf coast.
This could get interesting* yet. Stay tuned! And if you’re on the west coast of Florida, stay on your guard!
*…above and beyond the flooding caused by rain, which will be “interesting” enough.
P.S. Here are what this morning’s and this afternoon’s model runs look like, side-by-side:
The more recent model run looks a little less Gulf-oriented… but then again, there are more models, so it’s hard to say what’s really changed. And look at that radar again… hmm.