Will Tropical Storm (or Hurricane) Ernesto Pose More Offshore Oil Rig Threats?

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The National Hurricane Center has been tracking Tropical Storm Ernesto and the latest advisory shows Ernest moving westward at 18 knots.  The current advisory shows a slowing of its advance but a strengthening due to low shear and high upper-ocean heat.  The advisory now says that Ernest is forecast to become a hurricane by Monday morning in the Northwest Caribbean Sea.

One question to ask (of course outside of where this will ultimately make landfall) is how this will impact the offshore oil rigs and the offshore drilling infrastructure.  If Ernesto does strengthen and continue on its current cone, then the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore rigs will be facing evacuations again. The current mid-point of the cone shows Ernest strengthening to a Hurricane by early on Monday morning and hitting the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico by Wednesday morning.

For whatever it is worth, these projected cone paths often change and change wildly from the initial projections.  The full advisory has been copied below.

 

 

 

JON C. OGG

 

Here is the blurb in the 11:00 AM Tropical Storm Ernesto Advisory Update:

DATA FROM A RECONNAISSANCE PLANE AND RADAR FROM MARTINIQUE SHOWED THE SMALL BUT WELL-DEFINED CENTER OF ERNESTO MOVED WESTWARD JUST SOUTH OF OR OVER ST. LUCIA EARLY THIS MORNING. BASED ON THE AIRCRAFT AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS…THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS SET AT 45 KNOTS. THESE WINDS ARE CONFINED TO A SMALL AREA NORTH OF THE CENTER.  FAST-MOVING TROPICAL CYCLONES TYPICALLY DO NOT STRENGTHEN MUCH AND IN FACT…LATEST SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE LITTLE CHANGE IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE CYCLONE.

ERNESTO IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST OR 275 DEGREES AT 18 KNOTS EMBEDDED WITHIN A FAST EASTERLY FLOW SOUTH OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THIS STEERING PATTERN SHOULD KEEP THE CYCLONE ON A GENERAL WESTWARD TRACK FOR THE NEXT 2 TO 3 DAYS. BY THE TIME ERNESTO REACHES THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN…THE STEERING FLOW IS EXPECTED TO WEAKEN AND ERNESTO IS FORECAST TO SLOW DOWN. THE COMBINATION OF LOW SHEAR AND HIGH UPPER-OCEAN HEAT CONTENT IN THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA WOULD FAVOR SOME INTENSIFICATION…AND ERNESTO IS FORECAST TO BECOME A HURRICANE IN THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA.  THE OFFICIAL FORECAST FOLLOWS THE INTENSITY CONSENSUS…BUT ONE SHOULD NOTE THAT BOTH THE SHIPS AND LGEM INTENSITY MODELS ARE FORECASTING A STRONGER HURRICANE.

MOST OF THE TRACK GUIDANCE IS IN PRETTY GOOD AGREEMENT THAT ERNESTO WILL BE RACING WESTWARD ACROSS THE EASTERN AND CENTRAL CARIBBEAN DURING THE NEXT 2 TO 3 DAYS. AFTER THAT…TRACK MODELS DIVERGE CONSIDERABLY AND SOME MODELS KEEP ERNESTO ON A MORE WESTWARD TRACK…WHILE ANOTHER GROUP TURN THE CYCLONE MORE TO THE NORTHWEST…DEPENDING UPON HOW THE MODELS DEPICT THE STRENGTH OF RIDGE TO THE NORTH. NEVERTHELESS…ALL INDICATIONS ARE THAT ERNESTO WILL BE MOVING ACROSS THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IN 4 TO 5 DAYS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  03/1500Z 13.7N  62.3W   45 KT  50 MPH

12H  04/0000Z 13.9N  64.9W   45 KT  50 MPH

24H  04/1200Z 14.4N  68.1W   50 KT  60 MPH

36H  05/0000Z 15.0N  71.2W   55 KT  65 MPH

48H  05/1200Z 15.5N  74.5W   60 KT  70 MPH

72H  06/1200Z 17.0N  80.0W   65 KT  75 MPH

96H  07/1200Z 18.5N  83.5W   75 KT  85 MPH

120H  08/1200Z 20.5N  87.0W   80 KT  90 MPH

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