The 11 PM advisory is in, and we see the first big shift in the track in the last 36 hours. The picture tells the story:
You will undoubtedly notice that Charleston is no longer ground zero for landfall. The projected landfall point has shifted quite northward to the Georgetown area. While the center of the storm will still pass extremely close to Charleston area, this latest track indicates that we will be on the weaker left side of the storm. This will dramatically lower the effects of high tide and other potential surge issues. Also, tornadoes will be far less likely with this new track.
It’s good news for Charleston, but not so much for about Georgetown northward. I and everyone in the Lowcountry certainly hope that the power of the fabled Hurricane Cookies continues to shift this projection more to the right.
Watches for our area have not changed just yet. I anticipate a tropical storm warning by 11am tomorrow as the storm continues to approach. I reiterate that hurricane tracking is an inexact science and this could just as easily shift back to here. I’m waiting for the Hurricane Center to post the latest forecast discussion so I can further analyze their thinking behind this.
Please continue to pay attention to the local media outlets for more information about evacuations, etc.
The 8PM advisory comes with some good news in store: Ernesto failed to strengthen over the Florida Straits. This is great for Florida, as 45 MPH winds will cause things to be blustery and rainy, but that’s it. Florida’s hurricane advisories have been dropped, leaving only tropical storm warnings for the peninsula. They certainly dodged a bullet this time!
Because the NHC official forecast track only updates every six hours (the 11 o’clock and 5′oclock hours), it is still maintained that Alberto will make landfall in or just north of Charleston as a strong 70-mph tropical storm. However, speculation is mounting that it’s entirely possible that it may not emerge from Florida as anything more than a giant blob of very heavy tropical rain, and I get the feeling that at 11 we’ll see a revised tune being sung at the Hurricane Center. Dr. Steve Lyons at the Weather Channel has in his broadcasts cast more and more skepticism over the well-being of the storm after it leaves Florida. Considering all the storm’s been through over Cuba, the shear and dry air it encountered over the Florida Straits that prevented it from strengthening, and now further interaction with land, I for one can’t see much coming of this storm after it emerges.
Tropical systems are typically difficult to predict but I am starting to think that 60-70 mph sustained winds are becoming a bit of a stretch toward the upper end of the expected intensity. I personally believe Alberto will pack 50 mph winds max (and that may even be a stretch) as it comes ashore. This, of course, is contingent on how long it stays over Florida — if it makes a sharp turn to the right and starts moving off Florida quicker than anticipated, then I think we could be in for more of an event. The next six to twelve hours, I think, are pretty critical in getting a real handle on what to expect here tomorrow. Keep an eye out for those 11PM and 5AM advisories, as those will have the next two updates to the forecast track.
While tropical systems certainly excite me (hence my frenzy of posting on the subject over the last few days), I know that they really bother a lot of you, especially those who were here for Hugo. Rest assured that Ernesto will most certainly be no Hugo. It may not be much more than a blustery rainstorm. That would be the best-case scenario. If nothing else, it’s certainly a good test run of emergency preparations for that time when The Big One really would bear down on us, and that’s important.
See you folks at 11.
The Post & Courier has a Storm Watch blog that activates anytime a major storm, such as a tropical system, threatens. It has indeed been activated, and is a good central location for finding information on storm paths, evacuation notices, and other things. While I don’t think mandatory evacuations would be issued for this particular storm, it’s still a good thing to bookmark just in case of future storms.
The 5PM advisory is coming out now, and it indicates that a hurricane watch has been issued for the east coast of the U.S., including the entire South Carolina coast:
AT 5 PM EDT…2100 UTC…A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE
U.S. EAST COAST NORTH OF ALTAMAHA SOUND GEORGIA TO CAPE FEAR NORTH
Waiting for the new graphics to come in…
Update: Graphics are in. Landfall just north of the peninsula at 2pm Thursday afternoon. Also note the hurricane watch. It’ll strike at high tide but with the current trend just to the right of Charleston, the peninsula may be spared the worst of the surge.
Ernesto is still a 45 MPH storm, and is very close to making its first U.S. landfall at the southern tip of Florida and the Keys.
Update 2: Ernesto is likely to have 70 MPH winds as it makes landfall — very close to hurricane strength. This is a bit up from earlier, but we’ll see what happens as it goes over Florida. Personally I’m not so sure it’s going to make it off Florida’s coast with tropical storm force winds…but you never know with these things. Remember, I’m no expert, just an avid weather watcher. :)
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…and not much has changed. Ernesto is still a 45 MPH tropical storm. Tropical storm watches have been extended northward to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. It’s moving northwest at 13 miles per hour, still steadily. Not much is changing on this front. Charleston is still right in the path of the center of the storm, and now the timing is starting to come into focus a little more clearly, and it does seem that landfall will unfortunately coincide with high tide at 2PM Thursday.
I still anticipate seeing a watch sometime today, possibly as soon as 2PM. Here’s the latest forecast track:
Keep tabs on Ernesto at the National Hurricane Center, and get ready for a lot of rain with some fairly strong winds.
Update: Check out what the 11am forecast discussion says about Ernesto’s intensity at landfall. Reading this suggests that we should still prepare for a Category 1 landfall.
AFTER ERNESTO MOVES FROM FLORIDA BACK INTO THE ATLANTIC IN ABOUT 2 DAYS THE GUIDANCE INDICATES THAT IS (sic) COULD BECOME A HURRICANE PRIOR TO LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHEAST U.S. COAST.
Another update: I can’t believe I forgot this — check out Butterfat’s weather page — it updates automatically and puts all the useful information in one place.
We’re getting close to the 8am intermediate advisory (for which I’ll have no comment as I’ll be in class and working at that time), but I wanted to share a few thoughts on the 5am track from the NHC:
- The timetable for the center’s arrival has fluctuated, but the timetable for the arrival of the effects has become more clear, and overnight Wednesday is likely when the “fun” will begin, if the speed of the track holds. With this in mind, expect tropical storm or hurricane watches to be posted for our coastline possibly as soon as 11am today.
- Ernesto will have only about 24 hours over water — these are warm waters, but it will be closer to the coast than previously forecast, and that will mean a limit on how much energy it will gain before it makes landfall.
- The Hurricane Center seems pretty confident Charleston will see the center of the storm, as this has been forecast pretty consistently over the last 12-24 hours. During the day on Thursday, probably around 2 (yes, it sped up a few hours), I think we can expect some pretty dramatic weather.
- The Hurricane Center expects top sustained winds of about 65 mph at landfall in Charleston. This could cause scattered power outages, but certainly is an improvement from the 80 mph hurricane that was facing us yesterday.
Now is the time to get ready for the unexpected. With a landfall that is increasingly more likely to coincide with high tide, it’s important for Downtown and other coastal residents to be prepared for flash flooding. This is going to be a rainmaker that won’t go away for a day or two, so expect some massive rainfall amounts.