Looking Back At Ernesto

Good evening everyone. It has been a week since I last posted to the blog. I had been busy with writing some new articles, finishing up another book, and of course there was the Labor Day holiday and the start of school. Anyway, here I am with a post that takes a look back at Ernesto.

Ernesto, the season’s fifth named storm and first hurricane, made four different landfalls. First, the storm came ashore in Cuba, next it hit the Upper Florida Keys near Islamorada, then it made landfall in South Florida, and finally it made landfall in Long Beach, North Carolina. So this storm had a season’s worth of United States landfall all in one journey.

Ernesto had a brief lifetime compared to most storms. The storm only lasted eight days, and it was only a hurricane for about eighteen hours on Sunday, August 27, 2006. After its circulation began to encounter the rugged, rigorous mountain terrain of the islands of Cuba and Hispanola, which have mountains ranging between 7,000 and 10,000 feet, the system wasn’t really the same until it neared the Carolina coast.

Surprisingly, Ernesto’s biggest damage came to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Its highest wind gust wasn’t even in the area of its final landfall in North Carolina. A wind gust of 90 mph was reported in Maryland while Cape May County in New Jersey had wind gusts exceeding hurricane force. Even though Ernesto had weakened to just remnants of low pressure, the system combined with high pressure to the north of it to produce a strong pressure gradient that caused the winds to be so fierce in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Then, there was also the rains.

Heavy rains fell from North Carolina to Connecticut as the storm center tracked through Pennsylvania into Western New York. The reason for that was the cyclonic lifting from a nearby warm front, and the orographic lifting from the mountains and hills along the Appalachian trail. On top of that, Ernesto stalled while over Virginia, which exacerbated the rainfall. Slow moving storm systems such as Hurricane Floyd, or Tropical Storm Allison can produce plenty of rainfall.

Damage here in Central New Jersey was quite striking considering the state of the storm. There were downed leaves, tree limbs, and branches. Further north in Bergen County, New Jersey and portions of the New York City area, there were trees that were actually uprooted by the storm’s combined rains and winds. Prior to Ernesto’s arrival, there had been soaking rains earlier in the week, which saturated the ground and left older and weaker trees most vulnerable. Comparing this tropical system to others that have affected my area in the past, I would say that Ernesto’s damage was more on par with that from Tropical Storm David back in 1979. David hit the New Jersey area around the same time as Ernesto did give or take a couple days.

A Classic Cape Verde storm, David followed a similar track with respect to New Jersey as Ernesto. It was a storm that started out much stronger than Ernesto with Category Five intensity. Winds grew to be as high as 175 mph with the fourth named storm of the 1979 season according to Wikipedia. Pressure was as low as 924 mb, or 27.25 inches of Hg (Mercury). As with Ernesto, David weakened over the islands of Cuba and Hispanola and was never really the same storm after reaching its peak intensity. Nevertheless, David still ranks among the top twenty storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin.

2 thoughts on “Looking Back At Ernesto

  1. […] Good morning everyone. I have been working on some kinks with the Greg’s Weather Center web site, particularly the automation side of it including the weather reports uploaded to the internet from my weather station in the backyard. I’ve also added another link to the links page as well as a blog entry on the aftermath of Ernesto in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. […]

  2. […] Fortunately for folks in South Amboy, and unfortunately for me, the high surf and waves created by Florence’s circulation, were absorbed by the likes of nearby Staten Island, and other barrier islands in the region. Nevertheless, small waves did crash ashore in rapid succession. It was just a tad windy as Florence’s low pressure and high pressure over the Northeastern United States created yet another pressure gradient similar to the one experienced with the remnants of Ernesto almost two weeks ago. After being in South Amboy for about a half hour, I then got back in the car, and traveled down Route 35 to Laurence Harbor’s Waterfront Park. […]

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