Tropical Storm Ernesto Brings Tremendous Flooding Risk

By Dan DePodwin, Meteorologist
August 09, 2012; 4:35 AM
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Landfalling Hurricane Ernesto late Tuesday evening. Courtesy of NOAA.

As Tropical Storm Ernesto continues to move westward, the weather will continue to be very stormy in central Mexico through today.

The storm made landfall around 11 PM EDT Tuesday along the southern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as a category 1 hurricane with 85 mph. By early Wednesday morning, Ernesto was downgraded to a tropical storm but was pelting the Yucatan with 70 mph winds and torrential rainfall.

Ernesto has gathered a large field of moisture in the form of towering showers and thunderstorms, capable of unleashing a foot of rain in parts of central Mexico through the end of the week.

Rainfall rates of up to a couple of inches per hour can not only overwhelm streams and drainage systems, but lead to mudslides in hilly and mountainous areas inland of the coast.

Strong wind gusts, generally in the vicinity of severe thunderstorms wrapping around the large circulation of the storm also bring the risk of damaging wind gusts at a more local level. The severe thunderstorms can occur hundreds of miles away from the center of Ernesto.

The outer bands of the storm pounded Honduras on Monday with heavy rain and gusty winds.

A large dome of high pressure north of the storm should keep Ernesto on a westerly track toward Mexico and away from the U.S. A second landfall is likely near the city of Veracruz on Friday.

For a larger version of Ernesto's eye path, visit the AccuWeather Hurricane Center.

As far as the United States is concerned, Ernesto is expected to have little or no impact aside from some rough surf along the Texas coast.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, there are no other active tropical systems. A few tropical waves are being monitored, but none show signs of immediate development.

Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.

Expert Videos About Ernesto's Potential Impact

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