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Tropical Storm Ernesto. Monday Aug 6, 2012.

Blog updated at 3:25 PM MDT.
(Added the 12Z HWRF & GFDL Model Forecasts).

Tropical Storm Ernesto was located about 190 miles east-norhteast of Cabo Gracias A Dios, on the Nicaragua and Honduras border as of 9 A MDT this morning. After racing westward across the Caribbean for the last several days at around 20-25 mph, Ernesto is slowing down once again, and is now moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph. His central pressure has started to drop once again, and has dropped from 29.62" at 6 AM MDT this morning, to  29.35" or 994 millibars at 9 AM MDT. He has sustained winds of 65 mph with gusts near 75 mph.

Take a look at the IR satellite image above taken at 5:30 AM MDT this morning. Since late last night the cloud top temperatures (tops of the highest thunderstorms) in Tropical Storm Ernesto have been around -85C or -121F. This indicates that there are some very high thunderstorm tops in Ernesto. The area of the coldest cloud tops is expanding in size which seems to indicate that he is getting a better organized. 

Tropical Storm Ernesto has been battling wind shear and dry air since he moved into the Caribbean last week. This has kept him from strengthening into a Hurricane. As he continues to slow down in his forward speed, it appears that he has a better chance to go ahead and strengthen into a Hurricane before making landfall in Belize sometime on Wednesday. Ernesto could now very well become a Hurricane by tonight. I would not be too surprised to some fairly rapid intensification in his strength today and tomorrow before he makes landfall. 

Most of the forecast models are now forecasting Ernesto to take a more southerly track across the Yucatan Peninsula before reemerging in the Bay of Campeche by Thursday. However Ernesto has not been playing by the model forecasts very well so far, so I would not be too surprised to see some additional changes in his strength, and future track over the next several days. Hurricanes are notorious for these types of antics, and anytime you have a tropical storm that slows down over the very warm waters of the Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico just about anything is possible with them. 

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