The 11 PM advisory is coming in right now. The forecast track hasn’t changed much except for the following:
- Intensity has weakened all around, and Ernesto is now expected to make landfall as a strong tropical storm, but not a Category 1 hurricane. (Update: Rob Fowler has fleshed out the intensity a little bit more — it’s going to be a 70 MPH tropical storm. Not quite hurricane status but 70 MPH winds are nothing to thumb your nose at. Also of note is that News 2’s VIPIR suggests a more westerly track than what the NHC is providing.)
- Ernesto’s Charleston landfall has been pushed out just about six hours later, to just before 8PM on Thursday.
Here’s the new forecast track:
Ernesto is still a tropical storm with 40 MPH winds. It seems to be starting to emerge slightly now — we’ll see what happens. Tomorrow will be a very telling day, but for now, I must rest.
While we wait with baited breath for the 11PM advisory (with new model guidance and everything), I want to share a few thoughts:
- Was watching Dr. Steve Lyons on The Weather Channel earlier — he said it’s quite possible that Ernesto has weakened to a depression, as Cuba’s mountains have torn the storm to shreds.
- Watching the satellite pictures over the last few hours have indicated a motion that’s more west of southwest. Ernesto’s in no hurry to get off the island, it seems.
- With the above bullet point in mind, I fully anticipate that the forecast track will take Ernesto to the left of Charleston (bad for tornadoes and such) and weaken it considerably — in fact, it’s possible it may not go back out over the water the longer it keeps this westward motion up.
- I still believe a tropical storm watch at the very least — if not a hurricane watch — will be issued for the Georgia and Carolina coast with this advisory.
As they say in the news…”more at 11.”
I’m not sure what’s up, but the blog — as well as the rest of my sites, for that matter — are currently dog-slow. I’ve got a call into the host to see what’s up.
Site problems notwithstanding, the 5PM Hurricane Center advisory puts Charleston in the crosshairs for a Category 1 Hurricane Ernesto landfall. Check out the map. The track has jogged all around from east to west during the day today, but has come back to center. The white swath surrounding the center called the cone of uncertainty — yes, I talk about this a lot — is still gargantuan. This can and probably will change a lot. But for now, we should assume that at 2PM Thursday — 15 minutes after high tide — the center of Alberto will come ashore, probably over Johns Island, packing 80 MPH winds, lots of heavy rain, and isolated tornadoes.
Am I concerned? Damn right. My car is tentatively scheduled to be driven back to the relative safety of Goose Creek tomorrow (far less flooding at my parents’ place). I’m working on doing a full backup of my data and storing it somewhere safe. That and I’m getting water and all that jazz…and then I’m staying put. I may ask my friend Tom for his kayak, not sure yet. It could come in handy.
For those interested in the science behind forecasting hurricane tracks, I direct you to Dr. Jeff Masters’ introduction to the computer models at Weather Underground. It’s a great article.
For the reaction from the rest of the Charleston area, I direct you to Lowcountry Blogs, where the Post and Courier’s Daniel Conover rounds up the blog buzz from Charleston on a near-daily basis on many topics, and Ernesto will definitely be no exception.
The story for the last day or two has been Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ernesto, as the computer models have been taking it over or very close to Charleston sometime during the day on Friday.
The latest forecast track speeds things up by about 12 hours or so and paints a bleaker picture for Charleston. If the track holds — and hurricane forecasts five days out rarely do — Charleston will likely see hurricane force winds as the center of Ernesto passes probably within 20 miles of the coast as it recurves out to sea. This is similar to 2004’s Charley, where Charleston was battered by high winds and heavy rain for several hours as the storm’s center passed to the east.
The Charleston NWS office has released a special weather statement along these lines:
Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to move northwest across
eastern Cuba today and move towards South Florida on Tuesday.
Based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane
Center… Ernesto is expected to make landfall across South
Florida Wednesday morning as a Hurricane. Ernesto is then forecast
to move north across much of the Florida East Coast Wednesday and
be positioned off Georgia and South Carolina coasts by Thursday
night as a hurricane.
Based on this track… tropical storm force winds… wind speeds of
39 to 73 mph… and heavy rain could occur over portions of South
Carolina and southeast Georgia… particularly the coastal areas…
Thursday into Friday. This includes the Charleston… Savannah and
Beaufort Metro areas. There is a slight possibility that hurricane
force winds… wind speeds in excess of 74 mph… could also impact
portions of the middle South Carolina coast… including the
Charleston Metro area.
Now’s a good time to think about where to evacuate your cars. Hopefully the parking garages will be open well in advance of an event like this. Unless it grows into the second coming of Katrina, I fully intend on riding it out here, monitoring the storm’s effects using my weather station.
Please also note that future posts on Ernesto will be categorized as such for the historical records down the road.