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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Quoting GBguy88:


Whenever I start to get bored of the rain we've been having, I ask myself, "Remember what it's like to be in the grip of a severe drought?" And then the rain seems rather pleasant :)


I agree with this in somewhat but u also have to think flooding could be a problem.. I live in low line area.. :(
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880. xcool
btwntx08 huhuh
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Quoting Floodman:




They are about 17 degrees apart; at this longitude, a degree of lattitude ia approximately 68 miles...17 8 68 is 1156; call it 1100 miles. They aren't THAT close!

You GO Flood!
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878. xcool
Goldenblack lolol
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Quoting divdog:
absolutely no model support for that. 97l might not even survive if it gets any closer to earl.


i completely agree
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


97L is going to be destroyed by Earl's outflow... they are very close to each other




They are about 17 degrees apart; at this lattitude, a degree of longitude is approximately 68 miles...17 * 68 is 1156; call it 1100 miles. They aren't THAT close!
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.
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Quoting divdog:
absolutely no model support for that. 97l might not even survive if it gets any closer to earl.


Do you think if a storm has little model support, it is guaranteed to not develop? A storm still can develop with no model support.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Quoting StormW:
HURRICANE EARL / 97L SYNOPSIS AUG. 30, 2010 ISSUED 1:30 P.M.


Thx for the update StormW.. How u doing sir and what u think Earl will do ?
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Watch out xcool...they'll jump on you if you make an observation.....lol

Quoting xcool:
now Earl MAYBEMAYBE MOVED Little SW BY RADER .
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Quoting BradentonBrew:
but not by the image you posted which is a complete misrepresentation.


Ahh my error, thank you. Looks like I had the Danielle track. Here's 4 days ago. I just find it hard to sing the praises of "It's following the NHC's track!"...when not only is it not following the track, it's not even in the cone.



Again, the NHC is always my first stop, but it's silly to say in one breath, "Fish/Bermuda because that is what the NHC shows", then 4 days later while it's hammering Puerto Rico, to say "it's following the NHC track when it isn't even in the cone, let alone track.


I have no problem with criticism of the NHC when it has a factual basis, they have done poorly on Danielle and Earl.
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Agree that you don't need a direct hit for a large impact. The bands have just worked their way across Puerto Rico, kind of like a typewriter.

Flashfloods, beach erosion, and horrible storms are certainly not a fun way to spend the day.

Hurricanes are "systems" for a reason. They are not just a point on a graph.

Hope everyone in the Islands is OK, I think that the storm is more than what was expected.
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865. xcool
LOL
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After watching motion for some 2 hours now I still see ~297 degrees. That is slightly north of wnw.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


I agree.. Where u eactly live..
looks like one more day and sunny skies will return..yea..
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
Link

Puerto Rico Long range radar. He appears ready to take a little jog more to the north. You can really see it at the tail end of the loop.
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860. xcool
now Earl MAYBEMAYBE MOVED Little SW BY RADER .
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Quoting 69Viking:


This crap in the GOM needs to move on, I've had 3.5" of rain at my house since Friday!


I agree.. Where u eactly live..
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Earl speeds up, moves closer to US, 97L slip right underneath to cause terror in the Carribbean
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Quoting SeaMule:
if you notice, the eye is tending toward the heavy convection as it spins. The heaviest convection is spinning around the hurricane, and the eye is gravitating to the heaviest convection, resulting in a "wobble". Additionally, the convection is getting more and more concentric....and soon will fill in all 4 quadrants simultaneously, which will be the final phase of this cat soon to be 5 monster.

look for a continued shift to the west of the models, as the high builds.

possible so fla hit....imho
Your right...I can see it on the satellite loops.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20539
Quoting 69Viking:


This crap in the GOM needs to move on, I've had 3.5" of rain at my house since Friday!


Whenever I start to get bored of the rain we've been having, I ask myself, "Remember what it's like to be in the grip of a severe drought?" And then the rain seems rather pleasant :)
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


97L is going to be destroyed by Earl's outflow... they are very close to each other


Thats b/c of Earl slowing down in movement as we all can tell.. But as of now it looks fine but I agree if it continues like this then it would have problems of developing..
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850. xcool
angiest back to back storms. noo Break's .
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Quoting GBguy88:


Wilma also had a pressure drop of 53mb in just 6 hours, representing some of the fastest intensification of any storm in any basin.
53mb in 6 hours..that is fascinating. does that record beat the West Pacific for a 6 hour fall? I wonder.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20539
if you notice, the eye is tending toward the heavy convection as it spins. The heaviest convection is spinning around the hurricane, and the eye is gravitating to the heaviest convection, resulting in a "wobble". Additionally, the convection is getting more and more concentric....and soon will fill in all 4 quadrants simultaneously, which will be the final phase of this cat soon to be 5 monster.

look for a continued shift to the west of the models, as the high builds.

possible so fla hit....imho
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


97L is going to be destroyed by Earl's outflow... they are very close to each other
Quoting RitaEvac:
97L looks like its just gonna thread the needle going straight into the Central Carribbean, probably blow up once in there.
absolutely no model support for that. 97l might not even survive if it gets any closer to earl.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
Quoting DestinJeff:
I stole the Low Cloud Product from Pat. Don't tell him I have it.

Look at that eye.



Now, does anybody have the 12nm wind azimuth display thing?


The dreaded pinhole eye.
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Quoting HCW:
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
111 PM AST MON AUG 30 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN JUAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
ARECIBO MUNICIPALITY IN PUERTO RICO...
JAYUYA MUNICIPALITY IN PUERTO RICO...
UTUADO MUNICIPALITY IN PUERTO RICO...

* UNTIL 145 PM AST

* AT 105 PM AST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 8 MILES
NORTHWEST OF JAYUYA...OR NEAR UTUADO...MOVING SOUTH AT 35 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
JAYUYA BY 120 PM AST...
This was exactly what I mean about , that you don't have to get smacked with a direct hit to suffer some damage.
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Quoting BradentonBrew:
but not by the image you posted which is a complete misrepresentation.

Ahh my error, thank you. Looks like I had the Danielle track. Here's 4 days ago. I just find it hard to sing the praises of "It's following the NHC's track!"...when not only is it not following the track, it's not even in the cone.



Again, the NHC is always my first stop, but it's silly to say in one breath, "Fish/Bermuda because that is what the NHC shows", then 4 days later while it's hammering Puerto Rico, to say "it's following the NHC track when it isn't even in the cone, let alone track.


I wouldn't say it is Hammering PR atm. It will likely not see sustained Hurricane force winds from this.
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Quoting ElConando:


I'll say Earl.

Yea I just woke up and some reason I did that. haha thx for the correction haha
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Quoting JLPR2:
I'm watching Earl closely but 97L is looking like a threat to the islands as well.


It will most likely be a threat but the question is how much of a threat it will turn out to be?
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Thanks for the link to StormCarib. We've been so worrid about our friends in the BVI, every tidbit of information helps.
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Quoting xcool:
very very long hurricanes season . active sep to oct ..


I'll see your October and raise you a November.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting xcool:
very very long hurricanes season . active sep to oct ..
You said it...And it is not even September yet.......A little scary when I think about.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20539
12Z CMC now agreeing that Earl shears apart 97 L. 72 hours:


84 hours:


If the next Euro agrees, there goes the last support for Fiona coming from 97 L, except maybe as a short-lived TS.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
I have heard a theory, I don't remember whom it was that gave the info out, but it was talked about how when the SST in the atlantic or East coast of the U.S. are well above normal AND the season also experiences a below average season in hurricanes, or "lack of track of hurricanes over a particular area" generally results in significant snowstorms for the east coast over that particular area of residual TCHP content.

Can the same be said about the gulf of mexico and corresponding southern and midwestern states winters? Thank you.
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:








This crap in the GOM needs to move on, I've had 3.5" of rain at my house since Friday!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3016
Quoting rareaire:


The 882 mb pressure reported in Wilma is the lowest central pressure on record in an Atlantic hurricane, breaking the old record of 888 mb set by Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988. The central pressure fell 88 mb in 12 hours, which shatters the record of 48 mb in 12 hours held by Hurricane Allen in August 1980.

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Wilma in PDF and MS-Word.



Wilma also had a pressure drop of 53mb in just 6 hours, representing some of the fastest intensification of any storm in any basin.
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but not by the image you posted which is a complete misrepresentation.

Ahh my error, thank you. Looks like I had the Danielle track. Here's 4 days ago. I just find it hard to sing the praises of "It's following the NHC's track!"...when not only is it not following the track, it's not even in the cone.



Again, the NHC is always my first stop, but it's silly to say in one breath, "Fish/Bermuda because that is what the NHC shows", then 4 days later while it's hammering Puerto Rico, to say "it's following the NHC track when it isn't even in the cone, let alone track.
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97L better start moveing N or it may this get eat in up by Earl
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114769

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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.

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