the track clustering is fairly good through 3-4 days, but gets sketchy after that (after cuba). it's reasonable to assume that the track through that period is good.. the intensity is reasonable as well due to land interaction (i.e., it may be a little stronger, but probably not a large hurricane until right before or right after it gets into the gulf). in the gulf is where things get really interesting. the globals are showing that the ridging over the southeast weakens/gets squashed by another dip in the jet going into early next week... at this point i can see three basic options: 1) the system is strong enough (i.e., major hurricane) and the trough is strong enough to recurve it... but it will be recurving through a ridge, slowing down.. and more or less aimed at the florida panhandle. it would likely contact the westerlies and be spinning down some at landfall. it might also get dropped by the shortwave and stuck over the southeast to drift slowly and rain on everyone like hell over labor day weekend. it could potentially be a viable system near the carolina coast after labor day, under this speculative path. something like the mobile hurricane in 1852. 2) the middle option... the storm feels the shortwave but just so.. and the slows down over the central gulf to near a crawl as the ridge builds back... and has enough time over the gulf to go through multiple eyewall cycles... basically it is one hellish hurricane.. but moves slowly as it gnaws away at the ridge and keeps trying to insert itself into the weakness. ends up in louisiana-alabama and also has time to spin down prior to landfall. might get stuck inland in the southeast and rain itself out. not sure of an analog, which may represent a flaw in my speculation. georges, 1998, loosely? 3) go west, young man. the ridging is stronger, the trough doesn't provide much of a snag, and the storm keeps up the pace more westerly, and is a texas/western louisiana threat. this storm could potentially come in at a faster clip. dependent on whether it's just gone through an eyewall cycle or is going into a deepening phase, possibly presents the chance of the largest amount of wind damage. the 1865 hurricane, or maybe that God-forsaken indianola monster in 1886 would serve as analogs.
safest bet right now is that if something like the nhc official pans out, the storm will become a major hurricane over the gulf, but at landfall would likely be in the cat 2-3 range as most are. not going to lean towards south texas or mexico as much anymore, but if the system is still a tropical storm and hovering near the yucatan in 3-4 days, that is still in play. it's really down to these options, the way i see it. i don't really have a strong leaning towards any one right now. ernesto still finds a way to die in the next day or so, or it hits the gulf coast as a hurricane (good possibility a major) some time late next week. most likely thursday-saturday. HF 2138z25august
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