Well, we are just hours away from Ernesto's second strike to the US coastline. The big question, of course, is whether Ernesto will muster up the strength to reach hurricane strength. A recent recon flight indicates that intensification is not occurring. However, it would only take a minimal amount to re-categorize Ernesto as a hurricane. From radar loops its current path indicates a slight wooble toward the north with North Carolina's Brunswick County appearing to be the target. Good news is that Ernesto's approach is coinciding with low tide, so the anticipated storm surge is only on the order of 3-5 feet. The bad news is the rainfall associated with this system. Ernesto may dump as much as 5 inches in the Piedmont region due to orographic lift "squeezing" moisture out of the tropical flow. Currently, the radar signature of Ernesto reveals impressive banding if not a distinct eye (Figure 1) as it nears the coast.
The satellite image of Ernesto (Figure 2) is already becoming elongated due to its interaction with a stationary frontal boundary (Figure 3). This elongation also suggests the initial transition into an extratropical storm. The clustered guidance tracks forecast Ernesto moving inland over the Mid-Atlantic region before becoming absorbed in a frontal system over western Pennsylvania (Figure 4); the outliers are the poorly performing (with regards to tropical systems) ETA model to the west and the statistical climatology model (CLIP) to the east. I have no clue what's going on with the Limited Barotropic model (LBAR).
Stay tuned to StormTrack for more coverage on Ernesto's landfall.