Category 3 Hurricane Earl pounding northern Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:40 PM GMT on August 30, 2010

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An intensifying Hurricane Earl is pounding Puerto Rico and northern Lesser Antilles Islands with heavy rain and high winds this morning. The eye of Earl passed just north of Anguilla at 9am EDT, and Juliana airport on neighboring St. Martin Island recorded sustained winds of 47 mph, gusting to 68 mph at 8am EDT before going silent. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft currently in Earl just found a central pressure of 960 mb at 9:42 am EDT. This is a significant drop of 25 mb in 25 hours. Top flight level winds at 10,000 feet seen by the Air Force aircraft were 128 mph. Using the usual rule of thumb that the surface winds are 90% of the 10,000 foot flight level winds gives one surface winds of 115 mph, which is right at the border of Cat 2/ Cat 3 strength. Top winds seen at the surface by the Air Force's SFMR instrument were lower, 104 mph. Recent satellite imagery shows that Earl is not perfectly symmetrical--there is still fewer heavy thunderstorms on the hurricane's north side, suggesting that upper-level northerly winds are bringing 5 - 10 knots of wind shear to the storm.


Figure 1. Radar image of Earl taken at 7am EDT 8/30/10 from the St. Maarten radar. Image credit: Meteorological Service of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

Outlook for the Caribbean islands today
Latest radar animations out of Puerto Rico and St. Marten show that the eye of Earl is on track to pass just to the northeast of the islands of Anguilla, St. Maarten, and The Settlement in the British Virgin Islands today. The periphery of Earl's southern eyewall will probably bring Category 1 hurricane conditions to some of these islands today. NHC is giving its highest odds for hurricane-force winds to Saint Maarten--a 99% chance. These odds are 4% for St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and 2% for San Juan, Puerto Rico. The main threat to Puerto Rico will be heavy rains--up to eight inches in isolated areas. Earl's rains, in addition to causing flooding and dangerous landslides, will also help alleviate drought conditions that have affected many of the islands this year.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Wind shear as diagnosed by the latest SHIPS model forecast is nearly non-existent over Earl--just 3 knots--put is probably higher than that, based on the fact that the northern portion of Earl cloud pattern is ragged. Further evidence of this is the fact that Earl's eyewall had a gap in its west side, according to the latest report from the Hurricane Hunters. Ocean temperatures are a near-record 30°C, and very warm waters extend to great depth, resulting in a total ocean heat content highly favorable for rapid intensification. These nearly ideal conditions for intensification should bring Earl to Category 4 strength by Tuesday morning, and Category 5 is not out of the question. Earl should be able to maintain major hurricane status through Thursday, when it will make its closest approach to North Carolina. Sea surface temperatures are very warm, 29°C, along the U.S. East Coast, and wind shear is expected to remain low through Thursday. By Friday, when Earl will be making its closest approach to New England, wind shear will rise to a high 20 - 30 knots and ocean temperatures will plunge to 20°C, resulting in considerable weakening. Earl will still probably be a Category 2 hurricane on Friday, when it could potentially make landfall in Massachusetts or Nova Scotia, Canada.


Figure 2. Swath of surface winds from Earl predicted by the 2am EDT Monday August 30, 2010 run of NOAA's GFDL model. Hurricane force winds (yellow colors, 64 kt and above) are predicted to stay off the coast and tropical storm force winds (light green colors, 34 knots and above) are predicted to stay off the U.S. coast, but affect the coast of Canada. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/GFDL.

Track forecast for Earl
Once Earl passes the Lesser Antilles, steering currents favor a northwesterly course towards North Carolina. History suggests that a storm in Earl's current location has a 25% chance of making landfall on the U.S. East Coast, and Earl's chances of making a U.S. landfall are probably close to that. None of the computer models show Earl hitting the U.S., but the storm will likely come uncomfortably close to North Carolina's Outer Banks and to Massachusetts. The latest set of model runs (2am EDT, or 6Z) project Earl will miss North Carolina by 200 - 300 miles on Thursday, and Massachusetts by a similar distance on Friday. Keep in mind that the average error in a 4 - 5 day NHC forecast is 200 - 300 miles, so the East Coast cannot breathe easily yet. The Outer Banks of North Carolina and Cape Cod, Massachusetts are both at the edge of the cone of uncertainty. NHC is giving Cape Hatteras a 9% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. These odds are 14% for Nantucket, 4% for Boston, and 2% for New York City. The main determinant of whether Earl hits the U.S. or not is a strong trough of low pressure predicted to move off the U.S. East Coast Friday. This trough, if it develops as predicted, should be strong enough to recurve Earl out to sea late in the week, with the storm just missing landfall in the U.S., but possibly making landfall in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Regardless of Earl's exact track, the U.S. East Coast can expect a long period of high waves beginning on Thursday. Significant beach erosion and dangerous rip current will be the rule, due to waves that will reach 10 - 15 feet in offshore waters (Figure 3.)


Figure 3. Wave forecast for 8am Friday, September 3, 2010, as produced by the 8pm EDT August 29 run of NOAA's Wavewatch III model. The model is predicting waves of 4 - 5 meters (13 - 16 feet) in the offshore waters from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Hurricane History for the northern Lesser Antilles
The last Cape Verdes-type hurricane to affect the Barbuda and the surrounding northern Lesser Antilles Islands was Hurricane Debby of 2000, which passed over the islands on August 28 as a Category 1 hurricane. Damage was less than $1 million, and no fatalities were reported. The last hurricane of any kind to pass through the northern Lesser Antilles Islands was Category 4 Hurricane Omar, on October 16, 2008. Omar took an unusual track, moving towards the northeast, and the storm's eyewall missed all of the islands. Omar did $80 million in damage to the Caribbean, mainly on the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, the SSS Islands (Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten), and the U.S. Virgin Islands. No direct deaths were attributed to Omar, and the name Omar was not retired from the 6-year rotating list of hurricane names.

Links to track Earl
Wundermap of the northern Lesser Antilles Islands
Long range radar out of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Visible rapid scan satellite loop

97L
The tropical wave (Invest 97L) now 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands has a well-defined surface circulation and enough heavy thunderstorms to be classified as a tropical depression, if it can maintain that state for another six or so hours. Satellite loops show the surface circulation clearly, but also that heavy thunderstorm activity has been slow to build. The storm is experiencing low wind shear of less than 5 knots, and is over warm 29°C waters. The main impediment to development continues to be dry air associated with the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) surrounding the storm. The latest SHIPS model forecast calls for shear to stay in the low range, 5 - 10 knots, through Tuesday, and this should allow 97L to organize into a tropical depression today or Tuesday. NHC is giving 97L a 90% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday.

97L is moving quickly to the west, at about 20 mph. This means it is catching up to Earl, which has slowed down to 14 mph. By Tuesday night, Earl is expected to be a large and powerful major hurricane with a well-developed upper-level outflow channel heading clockwise out from Earl's center at high altitudes. These strong upper-level winds will bring high levels of wind shear, 20 - 30 knots, to 97L, and probably arrest the storm's development. The most likely scenario depicted in the computer models is for 97L to be drawn into the low pressure wake of Earl and pass to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles. Earl would then eventually destroy 97L through high wind shear, and by robbing the storm of its moisture. An alternative scenario is that 97L will stay far enough away from Earl that it will be able to pass through the northern Lesser Antilles islands as a tropical storm on Wednesday and Thursday, then bend northwestwards to potentially threaten the Bahamas and U.S. East Coast. There is a very high degree of uncertainty on what may happen to 97L. History suggests that a storm in 97L's current location has a 25% chance of making landfall on the U.S. East Coast.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of 97L.

Danielle
Hurricane Danielle is on its way to oblivion over the cold North Atlantic waters, and is only of concern to shipping interests.

Elsewhere in the Tropics
Over in the Western Pacific, tropical cyclone activity is ramping up, with two named storms expected to affect land this week. As is typical in a La Niña year, these storms have developed close to mainland Asia, and don't have a lot of time over water to intensify into strong typhoons. The storm of most concern is Typhoon Kompasu, which is expected to hit Okinawa today and recurve northward into Korea on Thursday. It now appears the Kompasu will not have major impacts on China's largest city, Shanghai. In the South China Sea, the fearsome sounding Tropical Storm Lionrock is forecast to hit the Chinese coast near Hong Kong on Tuesday, but is not predicted to develop into a typhoon.

The GFS model is predicting formation of a tropical depression off the coast of Africa about seven days from now.

Jeff Masters

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1081. RitaEvac
6:18 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Gulf coast folks better start watching 97L down the road.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
1080. RadarRich
6:18 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Just an observation on the wobble effect.
Remember Weeble's Wobble but they won't fall down. I had Weeble's as a kid, and I do recall they would wobble, and shimmey, and shake, but they always stayed straight up in the end.
Earl will wobble, a lot, and shimmey, etc,
BUT! He will eventually stay straight up, and follow the forcast points from the NHC when all is said and done. He may vary one point or two in Lat/Longitude throughout his trek. Technology is not Mother Nature, who can play some tricks on us. We have so many sophisticated models, and weather forcasters within our means,(technology). Hopefully this expertise is right and Earl follows the game plan, while doing the Weeble's wobble scenario.
We always need to be wary of one of those Weeble's that wobbles just a little too far. stay safe, Rich

(Repost from yesterday)

NOLALAWYER commented on how I said, the "NHC Forcast Tracks are pretty darn good", and he had some slight comments on my statement. Nothing is etched in stone. I have to concur with him on Earl. After looking back and researching the forcast tracks projected, it is pretty amazing how far off they were as far as where Earl is right now. Overall, the NHC does fairly well, but not in this case. Earl was projected by the NHC to be well North and East of his current position. It does look like the computer models at this time are in agreement of Earl's forcast track now, BUT, and I repeat, BUT, it is Mother Nature. Everyone just keep watching and be prepared.
Member Since: June 28, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 406
1079. PcolaDan
6:17 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting GetReal:
Throughout Earls tropical life, he has ridden along the left side of the forecast track. Occassionaaly the extreme left side of the cone.










The cone has also shifted west, with each advisory towards the U.S.







Earl continues to look like a problem for N. Carolina, and points north.


This is exactly what I was saying last night. Showed two things, that the NHC cones are usually accurate, and that Earl could still hit the US and be within the cones the whole time.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1078. Floodman
6:17 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting katadman:


Howdy.

Timing between the ridge and trough will be the whole story. No one here nor at the NHC knows for sure how that is going to pan out. We can only watch it unfold and adjust our predictions/forecasts periodically so that within 48 hours they are more in-line with reality.


+1

One of the best posts of the day!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
1077. kmanislander
6:17 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting Bordonaro:

I believe Earl will max out at 145MPH. There is a 20% chance, in my opinion, that Earl will make a CAT 5 status.


You are probably right. Earl would need the high octane of the central and NW Caribbean to put on a sprint to Cat 5 but still possible given where he is and will be for the next 10 hours.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15865
1076. myway
6:17 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
katrinakat5 >

Relax Francis
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 450
1075. Engine2
6:17 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:
6Z GFS, valid Sep 3 at 6Z...

notice the winds associated with the trough dipping through the Great Lakes region (depicted by the colors, scale on left). Also notice how the "312" line from the trough is down grabbing Earl, which is located NE of OBX. (click image to enlarge it)


Notice at 12Z run how much weaker the trough is, as well as it being tilted more sw-ne. Also that "312" line that was around Earl is now up at the base of the trough over Ohio and the 315 is the only one reaching down for Earl.

Earl located ESE of OBX on the 12Z.

Now here is the 12Z run for the same time, 9 Sep at 6Z
Your images didn't show up
Member Since: February 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 482
1074. originalLT
6:16 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Post 1061, there's two chances of that happening, SLIM and NONE!
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7729
1073. TexasHoosier
6:16 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting xcool:


update Steering Layer 300-850mb


What a break! That ridge stalled out over the East Coast centered over West Virginia and has not really moved in two days. Looks like the trough between the two ridges is building some and its due north of Earl.

Now that is real break for Florida and points west. Unless that high pressure moves east quick and blocks Earl's sense of weakness to the north, we may get out of this one with just a lot of pounding surf or at least delay the blow until it gets up to the northeast.

.....say right up the Potomac.....
Member Since: December 3, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
1072. katadman
6:16 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting Floodman:


Howdy, brother!


Howdy.

Timing between the ridge and trough will be the whole story. No one here nor at the NHC knows for sure how that is going to pan out. We can only watch it unfold and adjust our predictions/forecasts periodically so that within 48 hours they are more in-line with reality.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
1071. Patrap
6:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1069. nash28
6:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Great points Kman!

How are you today?
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1068. nash28
6:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Great points Kman!

How are you today?
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1067. muddertracker
6:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
I am NOT saying that Earl will make an east coast landfall, but anyone who turns their back on a CAT4 is an absolute moron...sleep with one eye open tonight, folks...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2351
1066. Patrap
6:15 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1065. ho77yw00d
6:14 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting Hurricanes101:


most of the models wanted Alex to go to Texas

they have been off by a pretty good amount all year long

they did nail Danielle though



hey hey hey watch ur language!! I am right here ya know...lol jk back to tropics
Member Since: July 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 427
1064. GeoffreyWPB
6:14 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:
The BAM MODELS on INvest 97L have the deeper or stronger storm going South....That would not be good if 97L does become a Hurricane or a strong Storm.


Hi Tim...don't most of the models show a path for 97L similar to that of Earl? At least they did when I checked early this morning.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11427
1063. PugGirl
6:13 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting katrinakat5:
im glad someone is seeing how far off the models are with earl SOUTH FLA DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN..earl is still doing wobbles to the wsw...no way earl makes the nw turn today ..this enhances the threst to south fla. and the bahamas...
Good Bye! Poof Be Gone!
Member Since: August 8, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
1062. Bordonaro
6:13 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon everyone.

Earl has settled down on a WNW track since late yesterday and although there have been wobbles to the NW the overall smoothed motion is still WNW. The wobbles are simply "stair stepping " that is typical of powerful cyclones.

The last couple of sat frames show that the eye is becoming very circular again and is now alost completely ringed by a wall of very intense convection depicted by the red circle that is just about closed. This is a sure indication that Earl is about to commence another round of intensification and the eye should clear out within the next 3 hours or so.

The next leg up from here is CAT 4 status for Earl and once the eye clears out he will be close to or at that milestone.

The track evolution for the rest of the day will be interesting. The high over the East coast of the US is strong and now oriented NNE to SSW just off to the NW of Earl. The weakness has been shunted off to the NE some and Earl should continue on the current course for the next few hours. If the high remains oriented as steeply as it is to Earls track it should serve to block his motion to the WNW later on and force more of a NW track.

If the high starts to "nose over" the top of Earl to the East then a flatter WNW motion could result for a time.

It will be interesting to see just how strong Earl can get.


I believe Earl will max out at 145MPH. There is a 20% chance, in my opinion, that Earl will make a CAT 5 status.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1060. angiest
6:13 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:
ONLY A SMALL INCREASE IN
ORGANIZATION OF THE SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY WOULD RESULT
IN THE FORMATION OF A TROPICAL STORM

maybe they mean depression


Elsewhere they stated they had evidence of TS winds.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1059. RickWPB
6:13 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
I noticed the coordinates given for Earl were:

at 1 PM were- 19.0 / 64.0
at 11 AM were 18.7 / 63.6

That's 3° north, 4° west — which works out to be a heading of 307° (3-4-5 triangle). It doesn't look like that on satellite or radar, so must have been a pretty good wobble to the N during the past 2 hours.
Member Since: September 26, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 358
1058. all4hurricanes
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Ear lis not hitting Florida yes it possible but your more likely to die while posting your comment about how Earls heading straight for Florida, than for Earl to hit Florida
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2374
1057. Tazmanian
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting TerraNova:



nic eye
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115359
1056. hurricanehanna
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting latrendsetter:
could earl go nw but then recurve to the west because of the high building in?

Now put that away! lol please?
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3488
1055. StormFreakyisher
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting seflagamma:
Are you kidding me.

Had on TWC, we have a major hurricane bearning down on the Islands and on the USVI and PR and TWC is showing a "Storm Stories" movie....nothing coverning this major hurricane.

I expected some coverage about this storm..


"Hurricane Authority" my butt!Yeah right!
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 684
1052. SirCane
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
The overall "look" of this storm on satellite appears similar to Camille. Anyone else noticed this? Hope he won't get that strong.
Member Since: August 13, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
1051. TerraNova
6:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:
BAM MODELS........hum?

The Deepest or the Stronger the storm is the BAMD or the model that thats 97L South.





Got a little tongue twisted there, huh? ;)
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting StormW:


Connie, right now, the ONLY way he comes to south Florida, is if that trof lifts out, and the ridge over the east coast shifts NE quite a bit...and until I see any sign of that happening, south Florida should be ok. Believe me...if Florida is going to be hit at any time this year...you all will be the second ones to know about it.


:) Thank you my friend!! :) :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good afternoon everyone.

Earl has settled down on a WNW track since late yesterday and although there have been wobbles to the NW the overall smoothed motion is still WNW. The wobbles are simply "stair stepping " that is typical of powerful cyclones.

The last couple of sat frames show that the eye is becoming very circular again and is now almost completely ringed by a wall of very intense convection depicted by the red circle that is just about closed. This is a sure indication that Earl is about to commence another round of intensification and the eye should clear out within the next 3 hours or so.

The next leg up from here is CAT 4 status for Earl and once the eye clears out he will be close to or at that milestone.

The track evolution for the rest of the day will be interesting. The high over the East coast of the US is strong and now oriented NNE to SSW just off to the NW of Earl. The weakness has been shunted off to the NE some and Earl should continue on the current course for the next few hours. If the high remains oriented as steeply as it is to Earls track it should serve to block his motion to the WNW later on and force more of a NW track.

If the high starts to "nose over" the top of Earl to the East then a flatter WNW motion could result for a time.

It will be interesting to see just how strong Earl can get.

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15865
Quoting GBguy88:


No kidding. September fostered Ivan, and October Opal. Both household names for anyone that's been here a little while.


I've lived in this area since 92 so know both of those characters all too well. Don't forget Dennis, he put 20 inches of water in my garage! Luckily the rest of the house is 5 feet off the ground and my garage walls were cement for the first 5 feet so no major damage!
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...double post
the blog hole didn't get it as I thought
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earl from space

Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1988
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
blog dead?


No, all the posts are being eaten.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
blog dead?



i think so
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115359
FROM:
http://www.stormcarib.com/reports/current/antigua.shtml

Clearing

* By eli fuller
* Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 13:46:53 -0400

Earl, now long gone left behind some some downed trees and many branches. Mostly I think the island was spared. I know we received more than 7 inches of rain last night and this am. Bolans and parts of Jennings were badly flooded and I am sure some of the other flood prone areas were too. A small section of Jolly Harbour got flooding too. Most of the boats were fine, but several sank that were tied up poorly in vulnerable places. People will be back in business tomorrow. This was a great reminder to all those who think preparing for a weak storm is cowardice. Small ones can get bigger and a track that is within 200 miles of you is something that shouldn't be laughed at. Many were totally unprepared for this one. A few images. Don't laugh at how many lines I put on my sloop.

Eli Fuller
http://www.twitter.com/antigua
http://www.adventureantigua.com
http://www.antiguaisland.blogspot.com
+12687257263

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The lat/long lines are currently off on some of the SSD floaters. For example, the vis floater linked in through NHC has 65w line running through western PR (not accurate). I emailed the webmaster, but others here might have more direct contacts with people who can fix this.

We have cameras in space that can read a freaking newspaper or drop a bomb down a window and we get fuzzy images with the wrong L/L superimposed. Come on our tax dollars can do better than that.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
BAM MODELS




that about sums up the spread of the models on 97L lol

talk about a confusing forecast
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Good afternoon, just checking in before running out again. Thanks for all of the info! and laughs. Is Earl so strong and big he is resisting the path that Danielle took?
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SST's around Earl are around 30C. Watch out
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1036. GetReal
Throughout Earls tropical life, he has ridden along the left side of the forecast track. Occassionaaly the extreme left side of the cone.










The cone has also shifted west, with each advisory towards the U.S.







Earl continues to look like a problem for N. Carolina, and points north.
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Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
BAM MODELS........hum?

The Deepest or the Stronger the storm is the BAMD or the model that thats 97L South.



Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
1032. nash28
As I stated earlier, I live in SC. I am by no means sounding the alarm, but I am not taking my eye off Earl. A 300 mile variance west from forecast track smacks alot of people currently "not in the cone."
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1031. xcool
[
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.