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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Viewing: 1981 - 1931

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Quoting Cotillion:


That's 150mph.

Cat 4.
I think it'll peak at 160mph before it undergoes an EWRC, should have another 24-36 hours before that happens.
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I would not be surprised to see a TS Watch for NC later tonight/early tomorrow.
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2010AUG30 194500 6.4 939.1/ +1.5 /124.6 6.3 6.7 6.7 NO LIMIT ON OFF 10.84 -70.31 EYE 17 IR 19.24 64.56


124.6 kts on ADT near to CAT 5
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the pressure drops with Earl are incredible... another 12MB in the latest forecast, down to 948...
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Earl is a Category 4, second of the season and still can strengthen further.
...EARL BECOMES A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE...MOVING AWAY FROM THE
VIRGIN ISLANDS...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...19.3N 64.7W
ABOUT 110 MI...180 KM NE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...135 MPH...215 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...948 MB...27.99 INCHES



FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 30/2100Z 19.3N 64.7W 115 KT
12HR VT 31/0600Z 20.2N 66.3W 125 KT
24HR VT 31/1800Z 21.7N 68.1W 130 KT
36HR VT 01/0600Z 23.4N 70.1W 130 KT
48HR VT 01/1800Z 25.8N 72.1W 125 KT
72HR VT 02/1800Z 31.6N 74.7W 115 KT
96HR VT 03/1800Z 38.0N 71.0W 95 KT
120HR VT 04/1800Z 45.5N 63.0W 70 KT...INLAND

Strong cat 4 peak
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1975. bird72
WAY WUT??????????????????????

Fiona
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
NONE.

INTERESTS IN THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF FIONA. A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MAY BE REQUIRED FOR A
PORTION OF THIS AREA LATER THIS EVENING OR TONIGHT.

Member Since: August 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 389
1974. Walnut
Latest cone looks bad for OBX.
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1973. hydrus
Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:


Yeah, you can always be right when you change your projections every hour or so. lol
Or have 9 points leeway out of a spread of 23..lol
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1972. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
oops that is not a category 5

140 is.. =P
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
first signs of a CATEGORY FIVE

130 knots forecast for EARL


That's 150mph.

Cat 4.
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I think Earl is a bottom feeder ...

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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
first signs of a CATEGORY FIVE

130 knots forecast for EARL


Just 10 knots away from a 5.
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Turks and Caicos are NOT in the new cone

BUT

the forecast expanded wind-field now has the tropical storm force winds reaching the TCI.
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Earl predicted to peak at 150 mph, just 6 mph short of Category 5 status.
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Quoting unf97:


Yeah, the inital NHC track is a copy-cat of Earl's. However, there will be track adjustments for sure!


Well since they completely failed @ forcasting Earl, they're probably not trying to be very original right now.
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5:00 PM AST Mon Aug 30
Location: 19.3°N 64.7°W
Max sustained: 135 mph
Moving: WNW at 15 mph
Min pressure: 948 mb

Earl...that is
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Quoting twhcracker:


mmmm seems to me, and maybe it was just that it was gonna skirt the fla panhandle, it was forecast to head this way. because i planted expensive grass seed thinking we would get plenty of rain and it went to NOLA instead. Now guess what. I have planted grass seed again. I am sorry! Now we got this huge blob offshore fl panhandle and i aint getting a drop of rain and storms are all going east of fla. If you want me to keep away hurricanes for you send me expensive grass seed!


I can do that and fly you in to spread it around here if you would. Lol.
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lmao.... NHC had Earl doing exactly what Daniell did, but it hasn't, now Fiona is supposed to do exactly what Earl is doing, aint gonna happen.
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Quoting TexasGulf:


Animals do sense storms and other natural events. In Puerto Rico's case though, the 50+ MPH winds and heavy rain today probably helped them 'sense' the storm coming.

Before the earthquake in Haiti, we had white pelicans that had flown in from the coast to an inland lake in Texas. Pelicans almost never come to that lake, but suddenly there were 100 or more flocking to the same area. They came from somewhere on the coast. Within 2-days, Haiti had the earthquake. The following day, all the pelicans left.

A week later, the pelicans came back. The following day, Haiti had a really strong aftershock. The next day the pelicans were gone again. We haven't seen them since.

Something made them fly from the coast to an inland lake... and it wasn't for fish, because where they stayed didn't have much. It was really unusual to see pelicans like that in such great numbers suddenly show up. I don't think it was just a coincidence.

If birds, insects or animals start behaving strangely, pay attention. They may sense something we don't. After all, before the Indonesian tsunami, animals began moving inland. How did they know?


The exact same thing happened in Sarasota FL...We have not seen more than one or two white pelicans there in 25 years. The day before the Haiti earthquake we had flocks of 200 strong on inland lakes and ponds (three that I know of) and they returned the following week just as you say occurred in TX.
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1961. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
first signs of a CATEGORY FIVE

130 knots forecast for EARL
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1960. aquak9
Sigh...back in the day, they used to call'm a tropical depression before they named'm...
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If it plays out, 1964's record will remain.
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1958. unf97
Regarding Fiona's track, look at the very end of the 5-day long range how the system really slows down. May indicate ridge building back in at the end of the long range. Lots of variables to consider indeed. A recurve is not etched in stone whatsoever for this system.
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1956. GetReal
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Quoting yonzabam:


When Katrina emerged into the GOM after crossing southern Florida, the NHC track forecast had it going straight into New Orleans. Don't know how many days out that was, but it was very impressive.


Not so! Check out NHC advisory archives here:
Link
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:O
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Quoting MrstormX:
I heard there is some awful damage in the virgins, true?


anguila and anegada, if im not mistaken, the two that beared the brunt, havent been able to pull info, will try again
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1950. kwgirl
Quoting CaneHunter031472:
There is a Hurricane a few miles off the puerto Rico coast and the Weather Channel is Talking about Katrina. I'm going to their site to let them know what a pathetic bunch of sorry people they have become.
I don't know why you watch them for weather. They do sensational reporting. I only hope Jim Cantore comes to Key West. it will guarantee a "NO Hit" LOL
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Quoting GetReal:

perhaps Earl missed the memo about the turn...someone send him a GPS
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Quoting twhcracker:


mmmm seems to me, and maybe it was just that it was gonna skirt the fla panhandle, it was forecast to head this way. because i planted expensive grass seed thinking we would get plenty of rain and it went to NOLA instead. Now guess what. I have planted grass seed again. I am sorry! Now we got this huge blob offshore fl panhandle and i aint getting a drop of rain and storms are all going east of fla. If you want me to keep away hurricanes for you send me expensive grass seed!


Woah... I'm sure the relatives of all the people who died from Katrina will send you a dollar for your expensive grass seed.

Seriously... Wow.
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1947. angiest
Quoting shawn26:
NHC has Earl movind West in the 5 update.


No it's still WNW.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1946. Relix
.1N
.4W

Once more
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2722
Wow the new sat photo shows the eye looken a lot better than 45 min ago.

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1944. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
but anyway, 7 cyclones active in the world.. WOW
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000
WTNT42 KNHC 302047
TCDAT2
HURRICANE EARL DISCUSSION NUMBER 22
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072010
500 PM AST MON AUG 30 2010

THE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT MEASURED 116 KT FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS AND
108 KT SFMR SURFACE WINDS SHORTLY AFTER 1500 UTC. THIS WAS THE
BASIS FOR THE EARLIER INCREASE IN INTENSITY. SINCE THAT TIME...THE
PRESSURE HAS CONTINUED TO DROP AND WAS DOWN TO 955 MB ON THE LAST
DROPSONDE RELEASED IN THE EYE AROUND 1700 UTC. SINCE THE AIRCRAFT
DEPARTED EARL...THE EYE HAS CONTINUED TO CLEAR AND IS SURROUNDED BY
CLOUD TOPS TO -70 DEGREES CELSIUS OR COLDER. OBJECTIVE SATELLITE
INTENSITY ESTIMATES HAVE INCREASED TO JUST ABOVE 6.0 ON THE DVORAK
SCALE AND SUPPORT AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 115 KT...CATEGORY FOUR ON
THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE WIND SCALE.

EARL IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN IN A LOW SHEAR ENVIRONMENT AND OVER WARM
WATER DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS
LIKELY IN THE SHORT TERM. THEREAFTER...EYEWALL CYCLES WILL LIKELY
INDUCE SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN INTENSITY...WHICH ARE DIFFICULT TO
PREDICT. THE NHC FORECAST IS AGAIN NEAR THE HIGH END OF THE
INTENSITY GUIDANCE. AT DAYS 4 AND 5...THE HURRICANE IS FORECAST TO
MOVE OVER COOLER WATER AND INTO AN AREA OF INCREASING SHEAR WHICH
SHOULD RESULT IN WEAKENING.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS 290/13. THE FORECAST REASONING REMAINS
UNCHANGED AS EARL IS EXPECTED TO TURN NORTHWESTWARD IN ABOUT 24
HOURS AROUND THE WESTERN PERIPHERY OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THE
TRACK GUIDANCE HAS SHIFTED NOTICEABLY WESTWARD DURING THE FIRST
48 HOURS...WITH THE GFS AND ECMWF ON THE EASTERN EDGE OF THE
ENVELOPE. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST HAS BEEN ADJUSTED WESTWARD...
PRIMARILY THROUGH 72 HOURS...AND LIES BETWEEN THE GFS/ECMWF AND THE
MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS.

THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT NHC AVERAGE TRACK
FORECAST ERRORS ARE 200 TO 300 MILES AT DAYS 4 AND 5. GIVEN THIS
UNCERTAINTY...IT IS TOO SOON TO DETERMINE WHAT PORTION OF THE U.S.
EAST COAST MIGHT SEE DIRECT IMPACTS FROM EARL.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 30/2100Z 19.3N 64.7W 115 KT
12HR VT 31/0600Z 20.2N 66.3W 125 KT
24HR VT 31/1800Z 21.7N 68.1W 130 KT
36HR VT 01/0600Z 23.4N 70.1W 130 KT
48HR VT 01/1800Z 25.8N 72.1W 125 KT
72HR VT 02/1800Z 31.6N 74.7W 115 KT
96HR VT 03/1800Z 38.0N 71.0W 95 KT
120HR VT 04/1800Z 45.5N 63.0W 70 KT...INLAND

$$
FORECASTER BROWN
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Quoting TampaTom:


FYI - Donna is also the only hurricane on record to bring hurricane force winds to every state on the eastern seaboard...


nice bit of info, thanks.
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...EARL BECOMES A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE...MOVING AWAY FROM THE
VIRGIN ISLANDS...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...19.3N 64.7W
ABOUT 110 MI...180 KM NE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...135 MPH...215 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...948 MB...27.99 INCHES
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1940. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 1010 HPA AT 08N 173E NW 20 KT.
LOW PRESSURE AREA 1008 HPA NEAR 10N 146E WNW SLOWLY.

TYPHOON 1007 KOMPASU (1007) 970 HPA AT 24.5N 130.2E : SEE TROPICAL
CYCLONE WARNING.
TROPICAL STORM 1006 LIONROCK (1006) 990 HPA AT 20.8N 117.0E : SEE
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.
TROPICAL STORM 1008 NAMTHEUN (1008) 994 HPA AT 25.6N 121.3E : SEE
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.

-----
Jason, better than 4 storm crazy =P
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1939. K8eCane
Quoting twhcracker:


well, if its cat 5, and so large that its gonna hit a large portion of coast, I would definitely leave as soon as it defnitely turns north and you are even near the cone. But thats just me.


TY everyone...Its one of those situations thats a should I or shouldnt I?
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1938. Jax82
Oh Earl, how much you have grown in just 1 day....I hope you grow old quickly and get lost at sea.
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In regards to Fiona, I wouldn't be surprised if she stays on a southern approach and doesn't recurve. I say this because I do not expect her to be that strong for awhile since she's over cooler waters that Danielle and Earl have stirred up, and the fact that Earl might slow or weaken Fiona in regards to becoming stronger.

Plus, the weaker she is, the less likely she'll feel the troughs or ridges that could direct her to the NW. If she can hold together without Earl destroying her, watch out. I'll be interested to see if the GFS will make adjustments and if it will actually show Fiona.
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Ok westcasters, time to get to work on Fiona!

She hasn't turned north yet. She missed the weakness. Timing isn't right for that trof to affect her. If I was in Venezuala, I'd be watching Fiona very closely.
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Nope didn't take long, but
whole loop here





LOL, I almost called him out on it too! I can remember being worried when that monster first crossed Florida, thought for sure we were going to get another Ivan like hit just a year later, wasn't a good feeling.
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1934. shawn26
NHC has Earl movind West in the 5 update.
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HURRICANE EARL FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 22
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072010
2100 UTC MON AUG 30 2010


HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 19.3N 64.7W AT 30/2100Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 15 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 290 DEGREES AT 13 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 948 MB
EYE DIAMETER 15 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 115 KT WI
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I would like to use the Vulcan mind melding technique and impart this to everyone on East Coast from SC northward...

THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT NHC AVERAGE TRACK
FORECAST ERRORS ARE 200 TO 300 MILES AT DAYS 4 AND 5. GIVEN THIS
UNCERTAINTY...IT IS TOO SOON TO DETERMINE WHAT PORTION OF THE U.S.
EAST COAST MIGHT SEE DIRECT IMPACTS FROM EARL.
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NHC track is panning out..
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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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