Category 3 Hurricane Earl pounding northern Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico

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

Share this Blog
5
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 631 - 581

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43Blog Index

Quoting ILwthrfan:


Link

Puerto Rico Long Range Radar. Its still on a WNW motion. Its wobbling North, then west, ect, ect... I don't think the turn has occurred yet.


Agree. Recent motion appears to be near 300 degrees, or just a little north of WNW.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SWFLIrish:

I agree - I had a three-week-old baby! No a/c, no tv, and the drone of generators - downer.


i had a 3 week old for Gustav and two holes through my ceiling. it was the WORST. i cried saying "i have no nest" LOL! my hormones were still out of whack and the waking up every hour and a half (which persisted until she was 8 months)had me emotional from sleep deprivation.

i ended up having to live at my parents for 3 weeks due to insulation being EVERYWHERE throughout my house.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lionrock and Namtheun are on a collision course over the Taiwan Strait.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


Thats just scary on so many different levels....


Hey Big fish wit da halo

You are in here with us...
so what does that say
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
07L/MH/E/C3
MARK
19.00N/63.99W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56020
Quoting Alockwr21:


Fran?
No theres a picture of flooding from Hugo in one of the Islands that look like flooding in San Martin
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
625. Skyepony (Mod)
Lightning tends to be seen with tropical systems that are gaining strength. Earl has plenty.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BVI:


Lets hope, definetly picking up now, much stronger gusts.


Take care.

---

In Antigua, powerful wind and rain destroyed at least one home and at least eight people had to be evacuated, though there were no reports of critical injuries. Emergency response officials said about 350 people were in shelters. Local weather authorities reported at least 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain and 10-foot (3-meter) waves.

In St. Maarten, the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity to much of the island but there were no reports of serious damage. Heavy gusts of wind swirled debris across streets that were empty due to a government-imposed curfew.

Link

Good news... so far.

Can't find anything on the state of Anguilla, though (which was closest to the eyewall).
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
623. MahFL
Another wobble west.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Vero1:


http://www.hurricanecity.com/city/norfolk.htm



whats this? link did not appear?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
Quoting Floodman:


You have always seemed a calm, even tempered sort to me...I have no problems sharing a parallel reality with you...first sign of psycho though, and I'm outta here...just sayin'

LOL


Thats just scary on so many different levels....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
San Juan radar recently indicated a 113kt gust.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting angiest:


Not sure about the EWRC. Remember we are still way out in radar range. What you *may* be seeing is an artifact of being able to see some of the "weaker" echoes between the closer bands and the stronger eyewall convection.


that's what i'm thinking. it's too soon for a new eye. he just got this one nice and closed up
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
616. Vero1
Quoting SeVaSurfer:
living on the coast of Virginia Beach,,,,what should we expect if Earl stays just offshore of the NC OBX moving northward as a Cat 3 hurricane. Think hurricane gusts are possible?


http://www.hurricanecity.com/city/norfolk.htm

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SeVaSurfer:


Hugo ???


Fran?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just because Earl turns north earlier does not mean any good news for the East Coast, the trough that recurves it has not even formed in the midwest yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting connie1976:
My quote thing never works!! lol

Anyway, it looks like the models are all together and have a pretty good idea where it is going....so I don't want to jinx us....but that is a good thing, right?


It probably will if you keep clicking it. I have the same problem. Posts don't appear also. Just have to redo them. Same with links.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricaneman123:


rocks probobly

Rocks and seaweed your probably right
everyone stay safe hopefully this won't be a major issue
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:


radar (which is more real-time than satellite) would disagree

that NW jog you see on the last frame of the visible was at 1115am; radar since shows Earl moving back west again. Overall motion is still WNW


Take a look to the Puerto Rico Long Range Radar. The eye was east of Anegada and now is north of it, I think the hurricane bearing has been about 300NW for the last two ours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SeVaSurfer:
living on the coast of Virginia Beach,,,,what should we expect if Earl stays just offshore of the NC OBX moving northward as a Cat 3 hurricane. Think hurricane gusts are possible?


did you go to the ECSC???? great waves from danielle for the finals
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Complete Update :)
Time to almost get ready to pretend to go to work :)
HH inbound again


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


...you share my "parallel reality"
...scary thought huh.


You have always seemed a calm, even tempered sort to me...I have no problems sharing a parallel reality with you...first sign of psycho though, and I'm outta here...just sayin'

LOL
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting nash28:


Well, the FL solution is completely out. Not happening. I for one, am not taking the SC/NC border out of the equation just yet. Like I said, until he scoots N of my latitude, all it takes is a little stronger ridging coupled with a day late in the trough progression to cause some trouble this way.


Hugo ???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow all models are clustered right off shore of NC. This thing is still way far from the E. Coast...any slight change of forecast could send this thing our way.

Not a west caster, fish caster, etc. Just noticing how close all the models have this thing to skirting the coast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Looks like Earl has finally started his turn and will begin to accelerate to the NW.

PR is safe from all but battering waves and Earl shouldn't have any more direct contact with land until Novia Scotia.


Link

Puerto Rico Long Range Radar. Its still on a WNW motion. Its wobbling North, then west, ect, ect... I don't think the turn has occurred yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting newportrinative:


Sssshhhhh!! Don't jinx us :)
2005 was the worst. Just got home from adopting our daughter from China and Wilma decided to come by and say hi. No power for 2 VERY long weeks.
We use to get excited at the thought of a storm but no more. It was scary!!

I agree - I had a three-week-old baby! No a/c, no tv, and the drone of generators - downer.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
603. BVI
Quoting Cotillion:
Looks like it wobbled... the BVI might be spared the absolute worst *if* it continues (though it'll still be pretty bad).

Looks like Anguilla and St Martin got slammed, though.


Lets hope, definetly picking up now, much stronger gusts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:


radar (which is more real-time than satellite) would disagree

that NW jog you see on the last frame of the visible was at 1115am; radar since shows Earl moving back west again. Overall motion is still WNW


yeah the satellite is over an hour behind the radar, by the time the sat catches up i wont be suprised if its under the TFP...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi everyone. I knew it would be entertaining on here with Earl on the loose, but geez...

Where's Patrap? I miss his links.

What exactly is going to pull ole Earl north? And where is it now?

TIA.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:

Looks like we may be getting an EWRC soon, based on the looks of radar... second eyewall developing outside the smaller eyewall.


Not sure about the EWRC. Remember we are still way out in radar range. What you *may* be seeing is an artifact of being able to see some of the "weaker" echoes between the closer bands and the stronger eyewall convection.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
And Earl has about 15 degrees of latitude to gain (or 900 miles) before I will breathe easy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
97L the Rodney Dangerfield of invest, if he doesn't get tagged at two.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting all4hurricanes:
Whats the black stuff in the water

If you are referring to the webcam of PR, I think that the black stuff is a rock formation. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
593. Relix
NW turn is evident already for a few frames. It's straight on forecast points
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HURRICANE EARL LOCAL STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
1231 PM AST MON AUG 30 2010


...
A FLASH FLOOD WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF PUERTO RICO AND THE
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS.
PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY FOR ANY FLOOD WARNINGS THAT MIGHT BE IN
EFFECT FOR YOUR AREA.

.STORM INFORMATION...
AT 11 AM AST...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE EARL WAS LOCATED NEAR
LATITUDE 18.7N...LONGITUDE 63.6W. THIS WAS ABOUT 160 MILES EAST
OF SAN JUAN PR...OR ABOUT 90 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF SAINT THOMAS
VI. THE STORM WAS MOVING TO THE WEST NORTHWEST AROUND 285 DEGREES
AT 15 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS WERE NEAR 120 MPH.

.SITUATION OVERVIEW...
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE QUICKLY SPREADING ACROSS PUERTO RICO
WITH HURRICANE CONDITIONS ACROSS THE NORTHERN U.S. VIRGIN
ISLANDS. SQUALLS WILL BECOME MORE FREQUENT THIS AFTERNOON WITH
TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS AND HEAVY RAINS THAT COULD TRIGGER
FLASH FLOODING. ISOLATED TORNADOES OR WATERSPOUTS ARE POSSIBLE
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC COASTAL WATERS... EASTERN PASSAGES AND THE
WATERS SURROUNDING THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND EASTERN PUERTO RICO
THIS AFTERNOON.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My quote thing never works!! lol

Anyway, it looks like the models are all together and have a pretty good idea where it is going....so I don't want to jinx us....but that is a good thing, right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
JP we are safe here in C FL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:


radar (which is more real-time than satellite) would disagree

that NW jog you see on the last frame of the visible was at 1115am; radar since shows Earl moving back west again. Overall motion is still WNW


Agreed. Using radar software with some analysis tools makes it easier to see.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Those can't always be relied on. Sometimes the "backfire". I've had a bad shoulder ever since a young stud went bonkers from a hit of that stuff and reared up and flipped over backwards hard enough to pick me off the ground and break the snap on the end of the lead. Better ask Orcca for some Grizz stuff.


LOL...stormtop on Grizz tranks...now THAT'S funny
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
living on the coast of Virginia Beach,,,,what should we expect if Earl stays just offshore of the NC OBX moving northward as a Cat 3 hurricane. Think hurricane gusts are possible?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting all4hurricanes:
Bottom right of the second picture of post 549


rocks probobly
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like Earl has finally started his turn and will begin to accelerate to the NW.

PR is safe from all but battering waves and Earl shouldn't have any more direct contact with land until Novia Scotia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunkStorm:


Theres nothing on Radar for NC.


Carolina (Spanish pronunciation: [kaɾoˈlina]) is a city located in the northern part of Puerto Rico, bordering the Atlantic Ocean; it lies north of Gurabo and Juncos; east of Trujillo Alto and San Juan; and west of Canóvanas and Loíza. Carolina is spread over 12 wards plus Carolina Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


He has started the turn.


radar (which is more real-time than satellite) would disagree

that NW jog you see on the last frame of the visible was at 1115am; radar since shows Earl moving back west again. Overall motion is still WNW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting truecajun:


i recall lightning in TD's, but not in Hurricanes. Is there any in TSs??
Yes...Sometimes a lot.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricaneman123:


OIL... i'm just kidding... what black stuff?
Bottom right of the second picture of post 549
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 631 - 581

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
24 °F
Mostly Cloudy

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron