Earl hits Category 4; Fiona forms

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

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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

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Quoting WandoMarsh:
Wow... The entire weather-observing fleet must be out there investigating. NOAA P-3s, TEALs, and now NASA? That is 5 planes!

And the NHC is requesting updates every 2 hours. They must be landing long enough to refuel and rest for a bit.

Wow... NHC must want to be all over this!


It's a safe bet that there will be almost continual reconaissance (sp?) in Earl until the threat to the U.S. or other land areas is over.

This is WAY to good of an opportunity for research not to have missions almost constantly flying into the storm.

They appear to be attacking this storm almost the way the VORTEX program has with their project.

This is one government program that I gladly donate my tax dollars for! Now some of the others... Never Mind :)
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Did Earl go through the Hebert Box and was he a major than if he did?


I know I'm not one of you guys, but I am interested and very curious after all the talk about the Hebert box this weekend. I don't post too much, but was a lurker for several years before I joined. I just don't know enough to comment, though I read everything when I'm not teaching.
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126. JLPR2
Seems to have died down a little, its still raining, and I think that what I saw were TD strength winds with TS gusts.
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Quoting Dakster:


Great. Mother Nature is having an O.

Just what we need.



Freaking LMAO!


That begs a question, but I'm not asking it!
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124. srada
Quoting WandoMarsh:
Wow... The entire weather-observing fleet must be out there investigating. NOAA P-3s, TEALs, and now NASA? That is 5 planes!

And the NHC is requesting updates every 2 hours. They must be landing long enough to refuel and rest for a bit.

Wow... NHC must want to be all over this!


sound like they want to be certain of Earl's path..
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Thunderstorms firing up in the northwest quadrant of Fiona. Perhaps firing convection is a clue on the moist atmosphere ahead. But as for now, the invest is still dry.
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Quoting drj10526:
whats keeping earl from being pushed south west in the near future? if a trough can push him to the NE the why wont that trough nudge him south-south west?


You're thinking about this all wrong...trofs don't "push" storms, they provide an easier path for them to take. The stronger a storm, the more it wants to move poleward; a ridge represents a barrier in it's path, a trof represents an opening for it move the way it wants to move...

That's a serious over simplification, but it gives you a better idea of how it works
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Quoting JLPR2:
Got intense all of the sudden here XD


Wow...looks like we will have a busy night shift!!
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Dvorak is looking more impressive by the minute...
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Quoting SeniorPoppy:


Mother nature is pissed. She has gotten too hot and bothered. She is definitely releasing the heat that has built up through the past few months.



Great. Mother Nature is having an O.

Just what we need.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Angiest, I just went over and updated the ACE on Wikipedia. The current numbers stand as follows:

Season total

01L (Alex): 6.7825
03L (Bonnie): 0.3675
04L (Colin): 1.9450
06L (Danielle): 21.7950
07L (Earl): 7.8650
08L (Fiona): 0.1225
---------------------------------
Total: 38.8775
LOL thank you for doing that. I thought I was one of the few that actually cared for the ACE info. :P

Wow 933 hPa??? That's dome depeening, Category 5 soon IMO.
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If that checks out, Earl is the strongest storm of the 2010 Season.
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RECON found 933 mb!
211500 1920N 06454W 6216 03602 9339 +159 +061 038017 021 036 004 00
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that is a huge pressure drop
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One of the worst typhoons to hit Korea was Typhoon Maemi which barely clipped South Korea as a Category 2 SSHS hurricane and killed 117 people. Kompasu looks like it may rival this storm although if it hits mainly North Korea (which would be a rare event) we may not get a death toll lol.
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Quoting hurricane556:
recon juust found 933.9 mb


wasn't he 999 just a day ago?
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Angiest, I just went over and updated the ACE on Wikipedia. The current numbers stand as follows:

Season total

01L (Alex): 6.7825
03L (Bonnie): 0.3675
04L (Colin): 1.9450
06L (Danielle): 21.7950
07L (Earl): 7.8650
08L (Fiona): 0.1225
---------------------------------
Total: 38.8775
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Quoting StormW:


LOL! We're gonna need a bigger ocean!


Lol!!
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
933mb!!!!
link?
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Quoting Tazmanian:



then this site most be down then


Link
I use google earth to track recon
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recon juust found 933.9 mb
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107. JLPR2
Got intense all of the sudden here XD
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whats keeping earl from being pushed south west in the near future? if a trough can push him to the NE the why wont that trough nudge him south-south west?
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Quoting StormW:


Yes. Just think about it...Danielle re-curved further west, Earl is even further west, etc. When the MJO finally gets back to Octants 1 & 2, we will see storms develop further west, as in closer to 50-55W...
What about that wave south of the cape verde islands.Possible Gaston?
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Thanks, Dr. Masters...going to be an interesting couple of days

G'night folks...heading for the house!
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211500 1920N 06454W 6216 03602 9339 +159 +061 038017 021 036 004 00
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Quoting Tazmanian:
when the next HH fight i wish we had them in there right now


There appears to be a NOAA flight right now.
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Quoting NOLALawyer:
"Never seen one take down 3 barrels chief....."


LOL....Not with three!!
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Quoting Asta:
re:1990. Barefootontherocks

LINK


Thanks, Asta.
:)

Bears watching...
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I believe Earl has a high chance of briefly reaching category 5 status. Also, I believe Earl is much more of a threat to the U.S. then is being suggested. Yes, Earl may very well turn out to sea, I am NOT saying it will not. But I believe Earl has almost an equal probability of hitting the U.S. as it does missing it.


Until you see Earl actually turn northwest for 24 hours or more, do not write it off!!!


Also, I'm not buying Fiona will curve out to sea at all. I expect the models and the NHC to shift their expectation towards the southeast coast of the U.S.
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933mb!!!!
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


That wouldn't make any sense.. 5PM was just 20 minutes ago?


Yeah, sorry.

An hour and 30 minutes, give or take 10-20 min.
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Earl is becoming a bit star up here in canada, just took up a whole 10minute segment on the evening news :)
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Can someone post me a radar loop my iPhone won't do java but when posted on here directly on the blog they work
getting more sustained high winds and rain now
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"Never seen one take down 3 barrels chief....."
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 520
Quoting StormFreakyisher:

Has there ever been a season where each wave that comes off forms into a hurricane and it happens consecutively for a while because it looks like it is happening here. First Danielle, then Earl, now Fiona, then the wave behind it plus the waves over Africa. I have never seen one storm form after another!


1995 had three hurricanes and a tropical storm active from African waves.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Wow... The entire weather-observing fleet must be out there investigating. NOAA P-3s, TEALs, and now NASA? That is 5 planes!

And the NHC is requesting updates every 2 hours. They must be landing long enough to refuel and rest for a bit.

Wow... NHC must want to be all over this!
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Quoting angiest:


Anyone have updated ACE information?


current Atlantic ACE is 38.88
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Like alot of us said, things were going to ramp up.
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Quoting belizeit:
They are in there right now



then this site most be down then


Link
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Get ready for the Korea-casters! Powerful typhoon looks like it's going to make landfall around the North Korea/South Korea border. Wow..
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
After Receiving Batch 1

-Daniella
-Earl
-Fionia

It Appears Batch 2 is Starting to Make its Way Off Africa....

And this Next Batch could Provide a even greater risk to the United States...


Has there ever been a season where each wave that comes off forms into a hurricane and it happens consecutively for a while because it looks like it is happening here. First Danielle, then Earl, now Fiona, then the wave behind it plus the waves over Africa. I have never seen one storm form after another!
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Quoting MoltenIce:
Wow, the Atlantic is definitely heating up now!

But still not as small as Wilma's... I think.
Not even close.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Intermediate advisory to come out within 30 minutes


That wouldn't make any sense.. 5PM was just 20 minutes ago?
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
Earl is a very impressive storm but right now it is far from cat 5

this is Celia earlier this year
it's not hard to imagine Earl reaching this though
Every hurricanes' structure is different. Although Earl may not look like Celia, it still has plenty of time to achieve that strength.
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Classic anticyclone now set up over Earl. Watch the higher cloudtops "exhale" clockwise outward from Earl, as the core of the strom grows with it. He's got some more intensifying to do.
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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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