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 TerraNova:
TVS/warning up in Puerto Rico. Very strong downdraft with that storm.



Yeah I was just looking at that. Rather impressive.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting angiest:


Running off memory here. Katrina bottomed out at ~908 mb, which I think was good enough for third in the Atlantic for that time. A few weeks later Rita dipped into the 890's, and after that Wilma went even lower. Worldwide, Typhoon Tip was the lowest recorded at around 870mb, I think.


Close...Katrina was 902...but who's counting! lol Tip was the lowest with 970. :)
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Let us all remember our WU blogger friends and their families in the Lesser Antilles, PR, US/British VI and surround areas.

Let us hope and pray that they are well and their recovery efforts go well.

Earl is intensifying steadily, 955MB/125MPH winds, at this rate it's possible we will have a CAT 4 by 5PM AST today.


Hey, isn't Weather456 on one of them Islands? I think I heard someone saying he was taking care of a sick family member and still going to school and all the stuff around the house. Our prayers go out to you and everyone else on the Islands. God Bless.
sheri
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


dont pounce on me... but a little south of due west wobble?


I see it too
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Thank you Relix, I don't think everyone has seen the latest satellite/radar frames. He might still be moving, but he did studder for a few minutes on that "steady" heading. The NHC site and st. martin radars are behind...

Quoting Relix:
Earl got stuck. Moving a little to the west.
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Quoting angiest:


Running off memory here. Katrina bottomed out at ~908 mb, which I think was good enough for third in the Atlantic for that time. A few weeks later Rita dipped into the 890's, and after that Wilma went even lower. Worldwide, Typhoon Tip was the lowest recorded at around 870mb, I think.


yup ur right
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Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
It's almost impossible for major hurricanes to move in a straight line. They are going to wobble left and right, but the wobbles generally average out to be right on or close to the forecast track. In Earl's case, he is doing just that and is right on or very close to the forecast track so far. I see no reason why Earl wouldn't follow the track that is currently forecast for the 3 day time frame. After that, it's anyone's guess as forecasting a trof/ridge interaction five days in advance is a very tricky situation. As for now, most if not all of the guidance agrees on keeping Earl offshore and has agreed on that for several days. All it takes, though, is for the trof to be slower/weaker than the models believe and then Earl will be on NC's doorstep.
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Quoting 7544:
no connie they already see the change in earl now by putting up watches for the bahamas remember its was suppose to track ne of them so what u think next

will we see a new cone at 2pm ?next


I really have no clue.... wouldn't 5 be the next cone? I'm not sure....I just want it far away from me...lol...I'm starting to get nervous....
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TVS/warning up in Puerto Rico. Very strong downdraft with that storm.

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dont pounce on me... but a little south of due west wobble?
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Quoting HurricaneIsabel:
Sorry to bring Katrina up, but the most impressive pressure we've seen was 898 mb, yes? and is that the most impressive in history?


Running off memory here. Katrina bottomed out at ~908 mb, which I think was good enough for third in the Atlantic for that time. A few weeks later Rita dipped into the 890's, and after that Wilma went even lower. Worldwide, Typhoon Tip was the lowest recorded at around 870mb, I think.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
767. Relix
Well storm hunting time! Be back!
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:



THANKS ! for the update
stay safe... at least it is light out
it is always worse when these hours go on and on in the dark


Dan hope is over soon.
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Quoting Tropicaldan:
There has been no respite, Earl is giving St Martin a pounding

The winds are still out of the south and have been worse than those from the west and north which we previously endured all night early morning

Rain has also now become a major factor , torrential and unrelenting for two or three hours now....flood risk areas must be overflowing, though I dont know that for sure

The noise inside the appartment is becoming distressing, the endless deafening roar of the wind, the hammering of rain on the zinc roof and the sound of wood and zinc creaking and groaning under strain...

We need this to finish soon !!

Its not a Luis for sure, but it IS an Earl !

Dan

My friend, hang in there. MANY people are praying for your safety and the worst should be over in a few more hours. Peace be with you!
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Quoting SavannahStorm:
Is it just me, or is the ridge building south and west on the water vapor loop?


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-wv.html



hmmmm i see what you mean. but i'm no trained eye. maybe the experts will comment
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Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8896
Guys... when a Hurricane moves.. it doesNOT go usually in a straight line. The overall 6hr movement may be straight..but there is always wobbles. He will jog W or NNW but the general movement is off to the WNW or NW around 295dg.
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Quoting Tropicaldan:
There has been no respite, Earl is giving St Martin a pounding

The winds are still out of the south and have been worse than those from the west and north which we previously endured all night early morning

Rain has also now become a major factor , torrential and unrelenting for two or three hours now....flood risk areas must be overflowing, though I dont know that for sure

The noise inside the appartment is becoming distressing, the endless deafening roar of the wind, the hammering of rain on the zinc roof and the sound of wood and zinc creaking and groaning under strain...

We need this to finish soon !!

Its not a Luis for sure, but it IS an Earl !

Dan


Be safe, you are in thoughts and prayers.
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Quoting Goldenblack:
Is it just me or is Earl stationary right now? Is this old?



It's reaching the SW edge of the High pressure ridge. It was expected by many to slow down when it reached this point.
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Quoting katrinakat5:
...dont believe me i have 25 years of forecasting these storms i know them pretty well..


posting since August 13, 2010

If you've been tracking for 25 years, you've posted your "forecasts" under another name...
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Time: 16:59:00Z
Coordinates: 18.95N 64.0167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.6 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,744 meters (~ 9,003 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 953.7 mb (~ 28.16 inHg)
D-value:
-


Appears to have missed the centre... going back for another run??



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Interesting link about lightning in Hurricane's.
http://www.physorg.com/news70359642.html
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Pretty cool site that links to all the islands on the right hand side for updates..for anyone interested:

Link
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Quoting DestinJeff:


:( really DJ gotta post that? haha
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Quoting Goldenblack:
Laugh if you want, the movement is very slow



no it really isn't satellite and other radars show that the system is moving steadily WNW at 15mph
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Quoting HurricaneIsabel:
Sorry to bring Katrina up, but the most impressive pressure we've seen was 898 mb, yes? and is that the most impressive in history?


I thought Wilma was 882
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Quoting Cotillion:


The Settlement is the town, Anegada is the island.

*pedantry*

But yeah... their turn next.


Yup my bad, thanks for the correction. It has a small population of ~200 according to Wikipedia. By the looks of it (and forgive me if I'm wrong lol) Anegada is totally flat.
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751. Relix
Earl got stuck. Moving a little to the west.
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uh oh the 12z cmc moved EAST
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Those of you saying Florida is totally out of the picture for Earl may wish to revisit this rather spectacular forecast error from a few year's ago. Please note that the forecast points show that Hurricane Isidore should not have been a backdoor Yucatan hit, much less execute a loop over the peninsula. If he had moved as forecast it *may* have been a hit to the Texas coast as a major (using extrapolation) as opposed to a hit to LA as a tropical storm.

isidore's loop
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting BradentonBrew:


That's today. Earl is definitely not following the track that was put out 4 days ago. I'm not an NHC hater, but I think it's very silly to sing their praises on this one.

It's following the model! Umm, it seems the model is following Earl.


It is outside the cone from the first advisory, but not by the image you posted which is a complete misrepresentation.
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Quoting GetReal:

(723)Staying on coarse.
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746. MahFL
WSW...WSW...WSW, wobble....call Mayor Negan......
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745. 7544
no connie they already see the change in earl now by putting up watches for the bahamas remember its was suppose to track ne of them so what u think next

will we see a new cone at 2pm ?next
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6855
744. 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...
Member Since: August 10, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1409
Quoting beell:


Sure it has. That's it lifting out of the 4 corners area from the US southwest. A slowly progressive trough pushing the ridge east.

Link
Thanks. I've been trying to find that thing. One thing I'm having pounded into my head this season is if something is going to happen in 3 days you need to look at 3 days away features. That covers a lot of territory. Makes me appreciate the models a lot more.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Time: 16:59:00Z
Coordinates: 18.95N 64.0167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.6 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,744 meters (~ 9,003 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 953.7 mb (~ 28.16 inHg)
D-value:
-
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Let us all remember our WU blogger friends and their families in the Lesser Antilles, PR, US/British VI and surround areas.

Let us hope and pray that they are well and their recovery efforts go well.

Earl is intensifying steadily, 955MB/125MPH winds, at this rate it's possible we will have a CAT 4 by 5PM AST today.


+1
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Laugh if you want, the movement is very slow

Quoting btwntx08:
704:no that animation only has 6 frames lol
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Quoting Tropicaldan:
There has been no respite, Earl is giving St Martin a pounding

The winds are still out of the south and have been worse than those from the west and north which we previously endured all night early morning

Rain has also now become a major factor , torrential and unrelenting for two or three hours now....flood risk areas must be overflowing, though I dont know that for sure

The noise inside the appartment is becoming distressing, the endless deafening roar of the wind, the hammering of rain on the zinc roof and the sound of wood and zinc creaking and groaning under strain...

We need this to finish soon !!

Its not a Luis for sure, but it IS an Earl !

Dan



THANKS ! for the update
stay safe... at least it is light out
it is always worse when these hours go on and on in the dark
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Quoting rareaire:
Hey Floodman. How you today? I have been on here watching this blog for sometime. When does school start? I enjoy the bantering but 1 deg north and its headed nw and out to sea. A bobble and its west to Florida. Its been fun. I cant wait to see how this plays out. Earl is truly been a wild one to watch. That trof is not going to be big enough if he keeps growing IMO. Hopefully so but its gonna be a rock and a hardplace when they meet.


Timing and patience, brother...things are too, I don't kow, ambiguous, for me to say definitley, but a swipe at the Carolinas is pretty certain...I think stormkat is even crazier than usual; a hit on Florida looks to be pretty unlikely amd I'm with you: show me the trof, already!
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Tornado Warning in PR

WFCA52 TJSJ 301711
TORSJU
PRC013-073-141-301745-
/O.NEW.TJSJ.TO.W.0001.100830T1711Z-100830T1745Z/

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...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE
NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

&&

LAT...LON 1818 6660 1820 6669 1841 6669 1838 6659
TIME...MOT...LOC 1711Z 007DEG 31KT 1827 6665

$$

ROSA




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Do most of you agree with the NHC offical track that is for 3 days? Thanks all!
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732. DVG
Quoting truecajun:


a much needed reminder for some on here.

Using real time cimss, it seems that high to the NE of Earl has diminished. It seemed to me, that it defineatly was following the lines beneath it. The radar from PR might be ahead on this as the movement for at least 45 minutes has been more west. So I will find it interesting to see the next frame or two of the cimss to see what changes occurred.
Member Since: August 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 264
Quoting JLPR2:


Its wobbling around. XD

Earl is flinging around so much energy towards his center, so we will see several wobbles during the day, until he maxes out, near 140-145MPH..
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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.