However, looking at the latest model data, this system is expected to stay out in the Atlantic and not threaten the US.
A cold front is approaching Tennessee and Mississippi this evening and showers and thunderstorms are out ahead of the front. Severe thunderstorm warnings (depicted in yellow) are being issued this evening across western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. The NWS Storm Prediction Center has coordinated with several local Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in the Southern Region to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Watch (depicted in cyan) for Western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. The watch is valid until 0400Z (11 pm CDT).
Based on the latest forecast advisory (#20) that NHC put out (see below) which was based on current satellite imagery (also below) and aircraft observations, Ernesto is expected to strengthen to near Category 2 Hurricane strength before landfall Wednesday morning near the Belize/Mexico border
Ernesto to emerge in the Gulf of Mexico mid to late next week … Now is the time to prepare!
As of 5am EDT on Saturday August 4, 2012, Tropical Storm Ernesto was located in the eastern Caribbean. Ernesto is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 Hurricane by tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon and then move into the Gulf of Mexico by mid to late next week.
The current National Hurricane Center forecast has Ernesto emerging into the South Central Gulf of Mexico early Thursday as a Category 1 Hurricane. The exact timing, strength, and location of Ernesto when it does emerge into the Gulf is low confidence at this point.
Regardless, this is the time for those that live along the Gulf coast to make hurricane preparations. See the “Are You Ready?” section of this brochure to see if you are ready. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf
At 4 pm, Ernesto was centered at 12.8N, 56.6W, or about 300 miles east of the Windward Islands. Maximum sustained winds based on reports from USAF reconnaissance aircraft have increased to 50 mph. Ernesto is moving rapidly to the west at 22 mph an will not impact Puerto Rico. The future of Ernesto is still rather uncertain. Even though the system has become a tropical storm, it is still not particularly well organized, and many fast moving systems like this weaken as they move through the islands and eastern Caribbean Sea. No significant strengthening is forecast in the next couple of days. If Ernesto can survive beyond that time, conditions are expected to be more favorable for intensification in the western Caribbean Sea later this weekend and early next week. The system is currently forecast to be a minimal hurricane in the northwest Caribbean Sea in 5 days.
The NWS Southern Region Headquarters Regional Operations Center (ROC) is monitoring the tropics closely. A tropical wave (highlighted in the image below) may intensify into a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next day or two. This system will generally move to the west-northwest and into the eastern Caribbean by Friday afternoon/evening. The storm track beyond Friday is very uncertain at this point. There is the potential that the ROC will need to go to extended hours support as this system approaches Puerto Rico.
We’re beginning to see increased thunderstorm activity along the front moving into AR, OK, and North TX. Some of these storms are potentially severe….
Radar data and warnings from the NSSL Real Time WDSS-II web page