Ernesto has traversed the island of Cuba and is set to make its way back into open waters. However, the mountains of Cuba did a fantastic job of ripping this storm to shreds. Most of the thunderstorm activity is now far away from the center of circulation (Figure 1). However, in the last 2 hours, convection has fired over the low pressure center, so there is still the possibility that Ernesto is getting reorganized. The new NHC advisory also mentions that there is little evidence of a closed circulation anymore, but with the increased convection, that should change. Current winds are still at 40 mph and the motion is WNW at 10 mph.
The track forecast is virtually unchanged since the 11AM advisory (Figure 2), despite a westward shift in the models (Figure 3). I'm not really sure what to make of the westward shift. Clearly, it is due to the subtropical high building a little bit stronger than what was forecast before. Whether this is a short-term hiccup or the reversal of the trend will be something to examine when the 0Z (8PM) models come out.
The intensity forecast has been lowered, with NHC now forecasting Ernesto come onshore as a 60-kt tropical storm. I must say, looking at the latest SHIPS guidance, that I have to agree with the decreasing of the forecast. The rapid intensification probabilities are now below 20% (16% for those of you interested in that sort of thing). This is mainly due to the center being completely destroyed by the mountains. Ernesto simply does not have enough time to get organized before making landfall in southeastern Florida and the current model guidance suggests that (Figure 4). I'd say NHC did a pretty good job with this forecast. Stay tuned to the StormTrack for more.