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 IamTheCanesSurfer:
NHC is doing a great job. Stop freaking people out.


Really? The 11:00 am advisory on August 25th had Earl at 20.5 N and 57.0 W five days out.

Now five days out, Earl is 18.7 N and 63.6 W.

Missed by 1.8 N and 6.6 W, a difference of 450 miles.
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post 138: That was fantastic!!!!
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I don't like how Earl was suppose to be above 20N at 55west and here it is around 65west and still south of 20N. This storm is a very scary storm in terms of it's track, each advisory the track has been shifted somewhat, The models continue to shift and at this time, this could be anyones storm if you ask me.
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I hope 456 is doing alright in St. Kitts. I hope he checks in after the fact to let us know how they're doing.
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177. srada
Quoting Levi32:


No, I'm going to have to wait until orientation is over with and classes have started to determine whether I'll be able to get updates in in the morning. For now I can only check the tropics from time to time and post some thoughts here randomly.


Oh Okay..:(
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Quoting katrinakat5:
...


Where are your facts to this up?
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Quoting RMCF:

Bad an 8 foot storm surge gets Manhattan and floods wall street it would not be good.


8' storm surge? Haardly...read the predictions on this page.

Here's a little excerpt:

Experts now believe that after Miami and New Orleans, New York City is considered the third most dangerous major city for the next hurricane disaster. According to a 1990 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the city has some unique and potentially lethal features. New York's major bridges such as the Verrazano Narrows and the George Washington are so high that they would experience hurricane force winds well before those winds were felt at sea-level locations. Therefore, these escape routes would have to be closed well before ground-level bridges (Time, 1998). The two ferry services across the Long Island Sound would also be shut down 6-12 hours before the storm surge invaded the waters around Long Island, further decreasing the potential for evacuation.

A storm surge prediction program used by forecasters called SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) has predicted that in a category 4 hurricane, John F. Kennedy International Airport would be under 20 feet of water and sea water would pour through the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels and into the city's subways throughout lower Manhattan. The report did not estimate casualties, but did state that storms "that would present low to moderate hazards in other regions of the country could result in heavy loss of life" in the New York City area (Time, 1998).



Not meaning to sound like an alarmist, but a New York City landfall for a CAT3 or 4 would rank in the top 5 costliest hurricanes in history
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I still don't understand the right bias from NHC.

On the last advisory they had Earl passing the 65 right on the 20.

Now its dropped to passing the 65 at 19.5.

Thats a 30 mile error in 3 hours.
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I think a lot of the puerto rican bloggers are slowly losing power.
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Good morning from Bayamon, PR. We are just 5 miles SE of San Juan. Actually, we are having heavy rain and some gusty winds from time to time and really dark chocolate skies in top of us. Expecting really bad floodings.
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San Juan radar indicating consistent 80-90kt max winds now.
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Quoting srada:


Hey Levi

Will you be able to do a post today in your blog?


No, I'm going to have to wait until orientation is over with and classes have started to determine whether I'll be able to get updates in in the morning. For now I can only check the tropics from time to time and post some thoughts here randomly.
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Better to be prepared NOW, than wait till the last minute.

IF Earl ACTUALLY behaves itself and follows down the middle of the NHC cone, NS will get hammered like in Hurricane Juan.

Start the basic preparations NOW. If 3 days from landfall, the track remains the same as NOW, you will be ready to secure your home.

IF Hurricane Earl does threaten your home/area/region, stay AWAY from the OCEAN front, stay in a secure structure until the storm is OVER. Earl means BUSINESS..


I hear you loud and clear, that's why I've been following WU for a few years. I was just referring to the mentality here in general. I will be ready. I will check out the waves at Lawrencetown Beach before and after it comes, they will be phenomenal.
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Quoting Levi32:
The interesting thing about Earl is that there's a massive airmass just to the north of him that is significantly cooler and drier than the tropical airmass that he is embedded in. This essentially was a cold front brought down by hurricane Danielle when she underwent extratropical transition.

Because of this, we have to treat Earl as a storm that is approaching an old front. Storms in this position often strengthen as they approach the front, because the cooling to the north and west induces sinking, which in turn reinforces and focuses the upward motion where the hurricane is.

However, it remains to be seen whether Earl will start to ingest some of this dry, cooler air in a day or two as he moves northwest, and that of course would be a bad thing for the hurricane.

You can see the cold front represented by the dry push behind Danielle in TPW imagery:



true... but earl has plenty of time before he hits that cold front... he won't hit it till wednesday... that plenty of time for a CAT 5 to form... especially in 31C water
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Direct Hit:
A close approach of a tropical cyclone to a particular location. For locations on the left-hand side of a tropical cyclone's track (looking in the direction of motion), a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to the cyclone's radius of maximum wind. For locations on the right-hand side of the track, a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to twice the radius of maximum wind. Compare indirect hit, strike.

Strike:
For any particular location, a hurricane strike occurs if that location passes within the hurricane's strike circle, a circle of 125 n mi diameter, centered 12.5 n mi to the right of the hurricane center (looking in the direction of motion). This circle is meant to depict the typical extent of hurricane force winds, which are approximately 75 n mi to the right of the center and 50 n mi to the left.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
+1
Personally I wouldn't even bother to mention it any more, I mentioned it last night and basically got jumped on like tics on a bull and scoffed at.Nothing like people trying to convince themselves, cause I don't think they have the ones that really notice convinced.Personally I'm getting totally fed up with this blog, no wonder W456 stop posting!



A few days ago if you didn't call Earl a FISH you got jumped on. Now the Fishcasters are eating a little Carribean jerk crow.
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(sorry for the re-post..)

Orca, My HH data in Google Earth isn't working this morning, looks like the website I used has an expired domain? What site do you use for the HH updates?

Thanks!

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162. srada
Quoting Levi32:
The interesting thing about Earl is that there's a massive airmass just to the north of him that is significantly cooler and drier than the tropical airmass that he is embedded in. This essentially was a cold front brought down by hurricane Danielle when she underwent extratropical transition.

Because of this, we have to treat Earl as a storm that is approaching an old front. Storms in this position often strengthen as they approach the front, because the cooling to the north and west induces sinking, which in turn reinforces and focuses the upward motion where the hurricane is.

However, it remains to be seen whether Earl will start to ingest some of this dry, cooler air in a day or two as he moves northwest, and that of course would be a bad thing for the hurricane.

You can see the cold front represented by the dry push behind Danielle in TPW imagery:



Hey Levi

Will you be able to do a post today in your blog?
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NAM @ 84
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/carib/nam/12/images/nam_500_084s.gif
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Reports From Puerto Rico
The media has reported that in eastern parts of the San Juan Metropolitan area, many tress are being reported blocking the roadways. If your on I-26 in Carolina headed to San Juan, there is a tree that was uprooted and is blocking 2 lanes, please stay off the roads people!!
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


Lol, nobody here would believe you. The Canadian hurricane center still has a track east of us from hours and hours ago. People here never get the right info on time because they refuse to hear or believe it.

I will be ready at least. Lots of beer too.

Better to be prepared NOW, than wait till the last minute.

IF Earl ACTUALLY behaves itself and follows down the middle of the NHC cone, NS will get hammered like in Hurricane Juan.

Start the basic preparations NOW. If 3 days from landfall, the track remains the same as NOW, you will be ready to secure your home.

IF Hurricane Earl does threaten your home/area/region, stay AWAY from the OCEAN front, stay in a secure structure until the storm is OVER. Earl means BUSINESS..
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NHC is doing a great job. Stop freaking people out.
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Earl has begun it's swing to the north. Look behind Earl too.
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


its going to be ripped apart by the outflow from Earl


Don't be so sure of that.
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Fringes of the western eyewall entering range for velocity scans on the San Juan WSR-88D.
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Quoting angiest:


And is at 120mph...

And moving 1mph faster.


A point of interest...if Earl can continue the WNW trend he will also likely accelerate..as just pointed out (good post) but that will also open further the possibility that 97L will NOT get swept away by Earls tailings...leaving 97L as a more real real threat to the US mainland, which according to some models can enter even the GOM...how about we hope for a happy medium and Earl goes slowly NW and eats 97L without any accelerated forward movement..?
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 372
Time: 15:16:30Z
Coordinates: 19.05N 63.2333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.8 mb (~ 20.58 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,978 meters (~ 9,770 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 150° at 100 knots (From the SSE at ~ 115.0 mph)
Air Temp: 8.2°C* (~ 46.8°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 101 knots (~ 116.1 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 82 knots (~ 94.3 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 12 mm/hr (~ 0.47 in/hr)
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152. Skyepony (Mod)
AF305 headed in again..83 knots
(~ 95.4 mph) surface 115mph flight level.
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Quoting JLPR2:
How the heck is PR pretending to work normally with a hurricane on its doorstep, this is bad, the wind is blowing from time to time and its raining, people at work and i still have college at 1pm still, and the university i read lost power, ridiculous!

Part of Carolina lost power already.


The government is just dragging their feet...
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Quoting Orcasystems:
HH inbound for a another Vortex run



Orca,

My HH data in Google Earth isn't working this morning, looks like the website I used has an expired domain? What site do you use for the HH updates?

Thanks!
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I will probably get jumped on for this, but... based on the long range radar loop from San Juan, it is a definite WNW movement, not west. One has to look at the overall motion, not just the wobbles.
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Quoting katrinakat5:
i have been saying this all along sou fla people go out and get your supplies while you still have time...this is going to be a cat 5 folks it will do lots of damage please get prepared..


You should be the guy like in galveston 1900 and get on yer bike and ride up and down A1A south florida warning everyone to run from the storm!!! Than you could be a true hero!!
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The interesting thing about Earl is that there's a massive airmass just to the north of him that is significantly cooler and drier than the tropical airmass that he is embedded in. This essentially was a cold front brought down by hurricane Danielle when she underwent extratropical transition.

Because of this, we have to treat Earl as a storm that is approaching an old front. Storms in this position often strengthen as they approach the front, because the cooling to the north and west induces sinking, which in turn reinforces and focuses the upward motion where the hurricane is.

However, it remains to be seen whether Earl will start to ingest some of this dry, cooler air in a day or two as he moves northwest, and that of course would be a bad thing for the hurricane.

You can see the cold front represented by the dry push behind Danielle in TPW imagery:

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Quoting katrinakat5:
well if you dont see that turn to tomorrow sou fla you better get your supplies and get ready for a cat 5 that will be worse then andrew..earl will be a much larger storm then andtrew was.

Pretty sure it will turn, if it it turns tomorrow late. Although, it did go through the Hebert box, for all that's worth. But my bet is it will turn before s fl.
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144. Jax82
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Recon's extrapolated pressure is acting up right as they make another center fix.... Hopefully it be corrected before they make another fix. Found 101 knot flight level winds in the last observation sent out.
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Quoting Bordonaro:

NOW would be a good time to think and prepare for a possible pretty strong CAT 2 Hurricane passing over NS, with the strongest winds over the Halifax Capital District.

Possible impacts may include winds as high as 100MPH for a period of 1 hr, torrential rains, serious coastal flooding. Time to secure loose items, having plywood handy to shutter windows, trim those trees by your home, having a 3 day supply of food, water, fill up your gas tank, new batteries for your radio.


Lol, nobody here would believe you. The Canadian hurricane center still has a track east of us from hours and hours ago. People here never get the right info on time because they refuse to hear or believe it.

I will be ready at least. Lots of beer too.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


I squirrel has a better chance of throwing a nut out of tree and havning it not hitting the ground than you do having any logic with any of your statements.


LOL...but your right...
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Quoting RMCF:

Bad an 8 foot storm surge gets Manhattan and floods wall street it would not be good.


just think about what that would do to the US economy
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Compliments the Xtreme Team!
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137. JLPR2
How the heck is PR pretending to work normally with a hurricane on its doorstep, this is bad, the wind is blowing from time to time and its raining, people at work and i still have college at 1pm still, and the university i read lost power, ridiculous!

Part of Carolina lost power already.
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Quoting katrinakat5:
jeff that plays out to a more westerly component for earl ..a longer time before he makes that GRADUAL TURN TOWARDS THE NW...it delays the turn .this is getting very serious for sou fla..i tried to warn puerto rico this was coming maybe sou fla people will listen better..


I squirrel has a better chance of throwing a nut out of tree and havning it not hitting the ground than you do having any logic with any of your statements.
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Check out MIMIC and speed up the loop. Watch what Earl's eye does when it encounters an island.

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/marti/2010_07L/webManager/displayJavaBy12hr_06.html
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134. Lizpr
My sister just send this picture
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from the NHC...

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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131. srada
Quoting Cotillion:


Yeah, 72 hours out as shown by Earl advisory #10 for Saint Martin.

I wonder if the NHC will end up putting up any TS Watches for the US East Coast later tonight/tomorrow considering Earl will be fairly close to the NC coast in just over 72 hours.

To be on the safe side, at least.


to have to evacuate and pack up all personal belongings if this mother of all clusters comes in farther west in less than 72 hours here in NC will not be ideal at all, TV media here is downplaying it..and a lot of people dont even know here at work we are staring down at a Cat 3/4 in a couple of days...our window is slowly closing..
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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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