Hurricanes, fire weather, and more!

Hurricane (Tropical Storm?) Ernesto continues to confound human forecasters and forecast models alike as it lurches along in the Carribbean. The storm has changed direction several times, has weakened under ideal conditions and strengthened in a hostile environment. The best guess for landfall (after Cuba) is the central western Florida peninsula as a cat. 2 storm. However, the actual landfall could be very  different from this estimate. If the system continues just 75 miles west of its forecast track, it will track only briefly over Cuba, emerging in the Gulf as a stronger system and having more time in the Gulf to re-strengthen before making its second (third?) landfall. This could lead to a cat 3 or higher landfall impacting some place between Pensacola and Tampa, FL. If it goes 75 miles to the right of its forecast track, the storm could virtually dissipate over the mountains of Cuba. If it goes even further east, it may miss FL entirely, only grazing the Miami area on its way out to sea. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the Western Pacific, now-Typhoon Ioke continues to churn as a cat 5 storm. It has been cat 5 for most of the last 3-4 days, and could strengthen further (yesterday GDFL had it at 180 kts in 24 hours). It’s not a threat to any significant land masses, but this could change as it moves further west.

This weekend was quiet in the West, with the seemingly perpetual mountain/desert thunderstorms in AZ/ NM and isolated storms in the interior. Temperatures were warm, but not hot (except W. OR) and humidities and winds were rather high/low, respectively. Hopefully firefighters took advantage of this break in the weather, because it isn’t going to last. A very strong trough will move into the PacNW early in the week, bringing very strong winds in certain areas, a drop in surface humidity, and some warmer temperatures. Also, thunderstorms are likely to develop, and with the low levels having relative humidities below 10%, dry lightning/strong downburst/outflow winds are likely. This pattern, once established, will persist for at least 3-4 days. Given the current fire situation, this week could be a bad one.

Elsewhere in the West (namely CA, coastal OR) the weather will continue to be very boring. No signs of anything in the offing, whatsoever. Purely in the spirit of conjecture, the remnants of Ioke could eventually (week 2) play a role in western U.S. weather as it amplifies the downstream troughing out beyond day 10. Could bring extreme fire weather conditions, or perhaps some much-needed rain? 

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