Ernesto has weakened considerably in satellite presentation since yesterday, and recon and Oceansat passes have confirmed that this is now an open wave. It goes to show that satellite appearance can be deceiving in the central-eastern Caribbean with storms like this, and this kind of weakening before 75W was expected. The NHC will likely continue advisories on Ernesto even though it is undeserving of its name, simply because it is expected to regain a circulation in the near future.
Now phase 2 of Ernesto’s life begins, as later tonight and tomorrow it will enter conditions more conducive for regeneration and further development. The upper low over the Gulf of Mexico is making its way WSW out of the way and starting to ventilate the NW Caribbean, and Ernesto should have room to expand an upper ridge once convection starts firing again. The global models support this upper pattern developing within the next 72 hours. The ECMWF is finally onboard with restrengthening, something it has refused to show until the last couple of runs. While hurricane intensity is not yet impossible before reaching the Yucatan, Ernesto is very beat up, and how much it can restrengthen before landfall will heavily depend on how soon and how fast it starts regenerating. The longer it hesitates, the better the news for the Yucatan. A strengthening tropical storm near Chetumel seems the most likely scenario now.
Once across the Yucatan, Ernesto will be weakened again, but again should restrengthen, likely to its maximum intensity while in the western Gulf of Mexico, and here I think it will have enough time over water to become a hurricane. The ECMWF now supports this, though the other global models have just become weaker and farther south with time. My target area from the last couple of days of the northern half of Mexico to extreme south Texas still looks good. At this time we can basically discount Ernesto getting any farther north than that, and the north gulf coast can rest easy now. The farther north Ernesto tracks in the gulf, the more time over water it will have with favorable conditions aloft, and the stronger it will get. Interests along the west gulf coast and the Yucatan Peninsula should monitor Ernesto closely. He’s coming back, and is not done just yet.
We shall see what happens!
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