Saturday, August 18, 2012

Post Analysis: Hurricane Ernesto/Tropical Storm Hector

Hurricane Ernesto began as an invest in the Eastern Atlantic. For a few days, Ernesto waded west-northwest before becoming a tropical depression, and then Tropical Storm Ernesto was born shortly after.

Ernesto continued right into the mouth of the Caribbean. Model scenarios began depicting a potential scrape with the Yucatan Peninsula before the system would move into the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond then, forecasters could only fear the worst- rapid strengthening and a landfall on US soil.

As Ernesto continued on a mainly westward path, tainted slightly to the north, the cyclone was not strengthening as quickly as expected. As weaker storms tend to move west rather than south, forecasters began to see models shift south with their solutions, producing a full-on Yucatan Peninsula landfall.

Moving a few days ahead, something happened overnight that was unexpected to forecasters. Ernesto took a wobble south. This little movement was the nail in the coffin for any potential landfall in the Gulf of Mexico. Ernesto then made another northwest movement, but it was too little too late.

Ernesto finally became a Category 1 hurricane right before the first landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula. After the landfall, Ernesto emerged a tropical storm, and headed west-southwest before making a second and final landfall on Mexico. It seemed Ernesto was set and done. But on the other side of Central America...

...Hector was born! The remnants of Ernesto moved southwest over Mexico before emerging into the East Pacific. Immediately, a tropical depression formed. This tropical depression made a little swing south as it moved west before eventually forming into Tropical Storm Hector.

It is not too common to have a cross-ocean tropical system. Because Ernesto technically dissipated over Mexico, it had to be renamed when it reformed in the East Pacific. However, if Ernesto had retained tropical storm strength, it would have emerged as Ernesto once again in the East Pacific.

Tropical Storm Hector continued on a west-southwest path before making a sharp turn north and degenerating into a tropical depression for a couple of days until degeneration and the end of Hector/Ernesto.

So, combined, how long did Ernesto's remnants stay alive? If Ernesto formed on August 1, and Hector dissipated on August 17, then this tropical system stayed in the game for a full 16 days. It's not often you see storms that survive that long, much less cross the ocean and regenerate.


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