Earl hits Category 4; Fiona forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:01 PM GMT on August 30, 2010

Share this Blog
3
+

Powerful Hurricane Earl, now a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds, continues to lash Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles Islands with heavy rain and high winds this afternoon. Hardest hit was Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, population of 200. The eye of Earl passed just north of Anegada at noon EDT, and the island probably saw sustained winds of 100 mph in the south eyewall of Earl. Second hardest hit was probably the island of Anguilla. Amateur weather observer Steve Donahue at anguilla-weather.com estimated gusts of 100 mph on Anguilla this morning; his anemometer broke at 88 mph. Juliana airport on neighboring St. Martin Island recorded sustained winds of 47 mph, gusting to 68 mph at 8am EDT. Winds were below tropical storm force on Antigua, but heavy rains of 5.71" have deluged the island. Heavy rains have hit Puerto Rico, where radar-estimated rainfall amounts of up to 5" have occurred southwest of San Juan. A heavy rain band moved across the island late this morning, with a tornadic thunderstorm that prompted issuance of a tornado warning.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Earl.


Figure 2. Radar image of Earl taken this afternoon from the San Juan, Puerto Rico radar.

Outlook for the Caribbean islands today
Latest radar animations out of Puerto Rico show that the eye of Earl has now moved past the Virgin Islands, and winds will begin to subside on most of the islands this evening. Heavy rains will continue through Tuesday, however, bringing the risk of flash flooding and mudslides.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Wind shear as diagnosed by the latest SHIPS model forecast is nearly non-existent over Earl--just 4 knots--but is expected to increase to the moderate range, 10 - 15 knots, tonight through Thursday afternoon, due to upper level winds out of the southwest from a trough of low pressure to Earl's west. This shear should not appreciably affect Earl between now and Thursday, since the hurricane is so large and strong. 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 continued intensification. Earl should continue to intensify until reaching Category 4 or 5 strength on Tuesday, and will probably maintain major hurricane status through Thursday, when it will make its closest approach to North Carolina. The hurricane will probably undergo at least one eyewall replacement cycle during that period, which will diminish its winds by 20 - 30 mph for a day or so. 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. Earl is more likely to be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday morning, when it could potentially make landfall in Maine or Nova Scotia, Canada.


Figure 3. Swath of surface winds from Earl predicted by the 8am EDT Monday August 30, 2010 run of NOAA's HWRF model. Hurricane force winds (yellow colors, above 64 kt) are predicted to stay off the coast, except over Nova Scotia. Tropical storm force winds (light green colors, above 34 knots) are predicted to affect virtually the entire U.S. coast from North Carolina to Maine. Winds between 58 mph - 73 mph (dark green colors) are predicted to affect North Carolina's Outer Banks, Southeast Massachusetts, and Eastern Maine. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/GFDL.

Track forecast for Earl
The latest set of computer models runs from 8am EDT (12Z) this morning push Earl's projected track a little closer to the U.S. East Coast, but still keep hurricane force winds offshore. 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. We now have one model predicting a U.S. landfall--the latest HWRF model predicts Earl will hit the Maine/Nova Scotia border region on Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. None of the other 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. Several models now predict Earl will being tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph to North Carolina's Outer Banks, beginning on Thursday evening. The Outer Banks of North Carolina and Cape Cod, Massachusetts are both at the edge of the cone of uncertainty, and could potentially receive a direct hit. NHC is giving Cape Hatteras a 11% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. These odds are 10% for Nantucket, 5% for Boston, and 3% 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, but it is not unusual for the models to miss the timing and intensity of these troughs significantly in 4 - 5 day forecasts.

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.

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
Long range radar out of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Visible rapid scan satellite loop

Fiona forms
Tropical Storm Fiona finally gained enough heavy thunderstorm activity to be given a name, but continues to struggle with dry air. Satellite loops show that heavy thunderstorm activity comes and goes, and there are not many intense thunderstorms near the storm's center. 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 increase to moderate, 10 - 15 knots, by Tuesday. Fiona is moving quickly to the west, at about 24 mph. This means it is catching up to Earl, which is moving at 15 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 Fiona, and probably arrest the storm's development. A scenario predicted by the GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models is for Fiona to be drawn into the low pressure wake of Earl and pass to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles. Earl would then eventually destroy Fiona through high wind shear, and by robbing the storm of its moisture. An alternative scenario, championed by the ECMWF and NOGAPS models, is for Fiona to stay far enough away from Earl that it will be able to potentially threaten the Bahamas and U.S. East Coast early next week. At this point, it is difficult to choose between these two scenarios. History suggests that a storm in Fiona's current location has a 25% chance of making landfall on the U.S. East Coast.


Figure 4. Afternoon satellite image of Fiona.

Danielle
Danielle is now a tropical storm, and is on its way to oblivion over the cold North Atlantic waters.

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: 428 - 378

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 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85Blog Index

anyone remember Wilma.. 10/16/05... 882MB.. 185mph...?!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ADT
2010AUG30 214500 6.6 933.7/ +1.5 /129.6 6.6 6.7 6.7 NO LIMIT OFF OFF 12.24 -69.81 EYE 17 IR 19.32 64.89 COMBO

AMSU 17.00Z 957mb 99kts
SATCOM 17.00Z 949mb 110kts
NHC 21.00Z 948mb 115kts
ADT 21.45Z 934mb 129kts
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
18Z GFS on closest approach to the Outer Banks (+87 hours):

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Well, hi all! I'm getting nervous and running to the beach every other day and the waves are getting so rough....I'm in central FL and Earl is getting bigger and closer...Rita
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting dacajun:
Less we forget what the models said 5 years ago during another storm? On a Friday morning, 08/26/05, all models had close agreement that Katrina was going to hit the Florida panhandle as a minimum Cat 3. Friday evening is when things started to change, and on Monday...you know the rest of the story.
You folks along the East Coast...board up your homes, pack up the family, and come on down to the Gulf Coast for a visit. If the models are right, then just call it a mini-vacation...if they are wrong, we'll show you the same compassion that you showed our folks.
http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at200511.asp?feature=verification


Wish I had a LIKE button for this!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
@409, thanks for injecting a little actual data back into the discussion. I love how people love to bash forecasts that were never actually made.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Paging StormW, IKE, and Levi.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


18z, end of 3 days
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
on wv imagery it looks as if the edge of the ridge is
almost even with miami. Will earl be able to break
it is the $1,000,000 question.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Living in ORF... I sure hope we don't have to see this again:

"HURRICANE ISABEL FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 42
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL132003
1500 UTC TUE SEP 16 2003


AT 11 AM EDT...1500 UTC...A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FROM LITTLE
RIVER INLET SOUTH CAROLINA TO CHINCOTEAGUE VIRGINIA...INCLUDING THE
PAMLICO AND ALBEMARLE SOUNDS...CHESAPEAKE BAY SOUTH OF NORTH BEACH
MARYLAND...AND THE TIDAL POTOMAC. A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT
HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY
WITHIN 36 HOURS.

HURRICANE WARNINGS MAY BE REQUIRED LATER TODAY OR TONIGHT."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


And Felix only reached 929mb.

Like you said...Cat 5 hurricanes have no defined criteria based on their pressure.


Which is why NHC wont classify it a Cat 5 till the winds to catch up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Keep in mind this is not true motion, just wobbles seen on radar.

Earl does appear to have wobbled westward along with a slow down. Just an observation, not a trend as of now.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting bwat:
Hey all, first time posting in over a year, been lurking, but Earl caused me to log back in. Looking a bit more threating for us here in NE North Carolina. Thoughts? If not back, to lurking for me. :)


Obviously you should monitor earl (probably here but with a little bit of common sense when scrolling through the west blogging!) and make preparations for a landfalling hurricane. It can't hurt to be prepared, even though there is a small chance you will be affected. The models have shifted slightly west but the middle of the cone would be just about ok for you. Things can always change (either way I have to say, there's no saying that the trough could send Earl further east)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Michfan:


I think we will see them change their tune as the day progresses. I think they are placing too much emphasis with the models at the moment when the water vapor loop shows the high shifting southward.


I agree. I'm super concerned because I have an elderly grandmother living in coastal NC and she won't leave for any storm no matter what.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Floyd got down to 921 mb as a cat 4 and Opal got down to 916. It just depends on the storm. Winds still need time to catch up to the pressure drop.


And Felix only reached 929mb with 175mph winds.

Like you said...Cat 5 hurricanes have no defined criteria based on their pressure.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Less we forget what the models said 5 years ago during another storm? On a Friday morning, 08/26/05, all models had close agreement that Katrina was going to hit the Florida panhandle as a minimum Cat 3. Friday evening is when things started to change, and on Monday...you know the rest of the story.
You folks along the East Coast...board up your homes, pack up the family, and come on down to the Gulf Coast for a visit. If the models are right, then just call it a mini-vacation...if they are wrong, we'll show you the same compassion that you showed our folks.
http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at200511.asp?feature=verification
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't see a problem with 18Z GFS. It correlates quite nicely with the last 4 GFS runs, GEM, et al. Beeline to OBX, swing to the Cape, then on up to our friends in Canada. They can have him thank you very much. (seriously not wishing our friends to the north anything bad)

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting blueafuze:



I think you are horribly wrong. 200-300 miles at 4 and 5 days. What a joke, 5 days ago the nhc had earl almost 1000 miles east. They made up that rule to look good lol. At this point Earl is an immediat threat, if you dont see it your blind.
That statement didn't seem correct so I went back 5 days and lookee what I found. Looks pretty good to me with the exception that Earl is about 24 hours ahead of schedule as he's moved faster than anticipated.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
408. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
406. JLPR2
Well I'm off for awhile and unless I loose power I'll be back later tonight. :]
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Please post the link for the 18z GFS model,,,,why is everyone all worried about the latest run?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
404. flsky
Quoting medicroc:

It's those little damages that are always the most heartbreaking. The guy who makes a living fixing cars out of his garage watches both his house and his livlihood washed away; a car is damaged and someone can't get to work; a tree falls on someone and a whole family suffers because the breadwinner is gone, a small farm loses its harvest and a family starves. The money damages quoted following a disaster are usually insured damages for big businesses, etc. Most of the people in the Caribean do not have any kind of insurance thus the real losses are much, much higher

Thanks so much for putting a human face on these storms.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalNonsense:


the problem with that surface map is it's wrong. LOL

the high is stronger and has drifted south. You can clearly see
this evidence if you check the link in my last post.

The weakness is not as pronounced and the orientation
of the high is different than forecast.


The problem with this surface map is: it's not a surface map. It's a 500 mb plot.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rareaire:
ive been saying for the last 4 days that Earl is not going to feel that pull north as soon as they said he would. I feel he will pull north but not today. He's been west of the forcast points and the models are following him. I really feel this is an east coast event with a very bad storm. I truly hope im wrong. I really do...


Each day they push back the turn another day. I'm starting to think they should just say "we have no clue" on the next discussion they put out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalNonsense:



a stronger high will be less likely to move out of Earl's way.
any movement south make's Earl's turn come later.

you can pretty much figure the rest out im sure divdog.
thanks for the info .. always good to gather the various points of view in the blog to help arrive at a concensus in your own mind. love learning this stuff.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
Watch out OBX! 18z GFS 84 hours:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaneWarning:
Also, it seems to me that these strong storms aren't impacted as much by the environment around them as a smaller storm would be. It seems like something would have to be awfully strong to turn Earl. I know I am probably wrong, but I am seriously concerned for SC & NC right now. I can even see a slight possibility of a FL-GA landfall even. I must just not understand what the NHC is looking at whatsoever.


I think we will see them change their tune as the day progresses. I think they are placing too much emphasis with the models at the moment when the water vapor loop shows the high shifting southward.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
398. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
2010AUG30 214500

CI: 6.6
933.7
129.6
Initial 6.6
Adjusted 6.7
Raw 6.7
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting clwstmchasr:
Us living on the West Coast of FL are good for the next week to 10 days. After that?

you on any coast need to watch carefully where this beast goes. That high could push it far enough west to come right up the middle (not likely, but possible!)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Station 41043
NDBC
Location: 21.061N 64.966W
Conditions as of:
Mon, 30 Aug 2010 21:50:00 UTC
Winds: E (90°) at 35.0 kt gusting to 42.7 kt
Significant Wave Height: 24.9 ft
Dominant Wave Period: 14 sec
Atmospheric Pressure: 29.67 in and falling
Air Temperature: 77.4 F
Dew Point: 74.8 F
Water Temperature: 85.1

Buoy N of Earl..wouldn't want to be there!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FloridaTigers:


Yeah, I'd say this is a very strong Cat. 4...if it were to get in the 920's, say Andrew pressure, then I'd think we could be dealing with a Category 5.
Floyd got down to 921 mb as a cat 4 and Opal got down to 916. It just depends on the storm. Winds still need time to catch up to the pressure drop.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Nooooo, Hurricanes101 is right, LOL, the vortex message did come in before the 933.9mb reading.



ok guess I was right lol

or was I? Now I am confused lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yah the storm is going to get to cat5. Also it is one of the largest storms iv ever seen.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaneWarning:


Our Tampa met said South Carolina wasn't out of the woods just a minute ago.


I totally agree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricaneman123:
there is nothing stopping Earl from reaching CAT 5 strength... is there?

itself...Eyewall Replacement Cycle...only think that could stop it...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Nooooo, Hurricanes101 is right, LOL, the vortex message did come in before the 933.0mb reading.



We're all right. :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Relix:


TD sustained. Maybe over 20mph. TS gusts though

Relix here in Bayamon wind gust 45 measured in my home
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
from NHC

THE HURRICANE WATCH FOR PUERTO RICO HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED...AND THE
HURRICANE WARNING FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS...CULEBRA...AND
VIEQUES HAS BEEN CHANGED TO A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.


Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
384. bwat
Hey all, first time posting in over a year, been lurking, but Earl caused me to log back in. Looking a bit more threating for us here in NE North Carolina. Thoughts? If not back, to lurking for me. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Also, it seems to me that these strong storms aren't impacted as much by the environment around them as a smaller storm would be. It seems like something would have to be awfully strong to turn Earl. I know I am probably wrong, but I am seriously concerned for SC & NC right now. I can even see a slight possibility of a FL-GA landfall even. I must just not understand what the NHC is looking at whatsoever.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
IMO Earl will continue on his current w-wnw track until he nears the Turks and Caicos islands in the se Bahamas... It is here that I believe Earl will make the true turn towards the NW...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Earl and the weakness:



the problem with that surface map is it's wrong. LOL

the high is stronger and has drifted south. You can clearly see
this evidence if you check the link in my last post.

The weakness is not as pronounced and the orientation
of the high is now currently different than forecast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Who knows Cat 5 mabye by 8 pm at the rate it is going. Plus with a pressure of 933.



Won't be upgraded at 8pm solely on the pressure drop, only when the winds reach cat 5 status - so almost certainly not 8pm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Honestly, Earl should be able to peak out around 155-165mph.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 428 - 378

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 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85Blog 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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

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