Category 4 Earl headed for a close brush with North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:16 PM GMT on August 31, 2010

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Powerful Category 4 Hurricane Earl is pulling away from Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and is eyeing its next potential landfall--North Carolina's Outer Banks. Earl brought heavy rain and high winds to Puerto Rico and much of the northern Lesser Antilles yesterday, though it appears that the islands were spared major damage. One exception may be Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, population 200. The eye of Earl passed just north of Anegada at noon yesterday, and Earl's south eyewall probably brought sustained winds of 100 mph to the island. Second hardest hit was probably Anguilla. Amateur weather observer Steve Donahue at anguilla-weather.com estimated gusts of 100 mph on Anguilla; his anemometer broke at 88 mph. Winds in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands remained above tropical storm force (39 mph) for five hours yesterday afternoon, peaking at 52 mph, gusting to 62 mph, at 4:49 pm. Heavy rains hit Puerto Rico, where radar-estimated rainfall amounts of up to 5 - 7" occurred. Earl brought waves of sixteen feet to San Juan, and waves at buoy 41043 offshore of Puerto Rico reached 31 feet early this morning.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Earl, taken at 10:30am EDT 8/31/10. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Radar estimated rainfall for Earl from the San Juan, Puerto Rico radar. Isolated regions of 5 - 7 " of rain occurred in three locations on Puerto Rico. The rays fanning out to east from the radar location marked with a "+" are due to mountains blocking the view of the radar.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Wind shear as diagnosed by the latest SHIPS model forecast shows a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear over Earl, due to upper level winds out of the southwest from a trough of low pressure to Earl's west. This moderate shear is predicted to continue through Friday, but should not appreciably affect Earl, since the hurricane is so large and strong. Ocean temperatures are a near-record 29.5 - 30°C, and very warm waters extend to great depth, resulting in a total ocean heat content favorable for intensification. Earl is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, which may diminish its winds by 10 -20 mph for a day or so. However, the storm will probably regain strength after completing this cycle, and it is likely Earl will be a major Category 3 or 4 hurricane at its closest approach to North Carolina Thursday night and Friday morning. By Friday night, 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 night, 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 2am EDT Tuesday, August 31, 2010 runs of NOAA's GFDL model (left) and HWRF model (right). Hurricane force winds (yellow colors, above 64 knots) are predicted to stay off the coast. Tropical storm force winds (light green colors, above 34 knots) are predicted to affect coastal North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Eastern Maine. Winds between 58 mph - 73 mph (dark green colors) are predicted to small portions of the coast. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/GFDL.

Track forecast for Earl
The latest set of computer models runs from 2am EDT (6Z) this morning push Earl's projected track a little closer to the U.S. East Coast, and we now have two of our six reliable models predicting a U.S. landfall. The latest NOGAPS run shows Earl hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina late Thursday night, then striking Southeast Massachusetts late Friday night, and Eastern Maine on Saturday morning. The HWRF model predicts a strike on Eastern Maine Saturday morning, but keeps Earl offshore from North Carolina and Massachusetts. None of the other computer models show Earl hitting the U.S., but several models bring Earl within 100 - 200 miles of North Carolina's Outer Banks and Southeast Massachusetts. It is likely that Earl will being a 12-hour period of heavy rain and tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph to North Carolina's Outer Banks, beginning on Thursday evening. NHC is giving Cape Hatteras a 12% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. By Friday evening, western Long Island, Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts can expect a 6 - 8 hour period of heavy rain and tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph. NHC is giving Nantucket a 11% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. These odds are 4% for Boston, 6% for Providence, 5% for Eastport, Maine, and 11% for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. 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. Keep in mind that the average error in position for a 3-day NHC forecast is 185 miles, which is about how far offshore Earl is predicted to be from Cape Hatteras three days from now. The average error in a 4-day forecast is 255 miles, which is about the distance Earl is expected to be from the coast of New England four days from now.

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 currents will be the rule, due to waves that will reach 10 - 15 feet in offshore waters. Waves from Hurricane Danielle killed two swimmers in the U.S. over the weekend and forced hundreds of water rescues along the U.S. East Coast. Earl's waves will be worse, and will likely cause millions of dollars in beach erosion damage.

Fiona
Tropical Storm Fiona is speeding west-northwest towards Hurricane Earl, but is unlikely to bring tropical storm force winds to the Lesser Antilles. Satellite loops show that heavy thunderstorm activity has increased in some of the outer bands this morning, but remains limited near the center. Wind shear is currently moderate, 10 - 15 knots, and the main impediment to development continues to be dry air associated with the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) surrounding the storm.

Forecast for Fiona
Fiona is moving quickly to the west-northwest, at about 24 mph. This means it is catching up to Earl, which is moving at 15 mph. By tonight, Fiona will be beneath Earl's upper-level outflow channel. Strong upper-level winds from Earl's upper-level outflow and a ridge of high pressure to the northwest of Fiona will bring high levels of wind shear, 20 - 30 knots, to Fiona tonight through Friday, and probably arrest the storm's development. The scenario now called for by all the models is for Fiona to be drawn into the low pressure wake of Earl and turn to the northwest. Fiona will pass to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and will probably not bring tropical storm force winds to the islands. Fiona should then continue to the northwest and then turn north, passing very close to Bermuda on Saturday morning. It is possible Earl could destroy Fiona through high wind shear before Saturday.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Fiona. High level cirrus clouds flowing out from the center of Earl as part of its upper level outflow can be seen starting to impinge upon the western side of Fiona's circulation.

Danielle is dead
Tropical Storm Danielle has succumbed to the cold North Atlantic waters, and is no longer a tropical storm.

98L
A new tropical wave (Invest 98L) moved off the coast of Africa yesterday, and is centered a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands. Strong easterly winds from the African Monsoon are creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of shear, and the disturbance is currently disorganized. A large area of dry air lies to the north and west of 98L, and this will interfere with development. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts shear will remain moderate, 10 - 20 knots, for the next five days, and some slow development of 98L is possible as it moves westward at 15 mph. NHC is giving a 10% chance of this system developing into a tropical depression by Thursday, and none of the computer models develop it.


Figure 5. Morning satellite image of 98L.

A rare triple threat in the Western Pacific
Over in the Western Pacific, we have an unusual triple feature--three named storms all within 700 miles of each other. A 3-way interaction between these storms is occurring, making for a very tough forecast situation. The storm of most concern is Typhoon Kompasu, which hit Okinawa today as a Category 2 typhoon. Kompasu is expected to recurve northeastward and hit North Korea on Thursday as a Category 2 typhoon. It is unusual for a powerful typhoon to thread the tight Yellow Sea and hit North Korea, and I don't know how prepared they are for strong typhoons. Kompasu is expected to hit the most populous region of North Korea, but the country is pretty mountainous, and a significant storm surge disaster is probably unlikely. In the South China Sea, Tropical Storm Lionrock and Tropical Storm Namtheun are moving through the straights between Taiwan and China towards each other. Neither are predicted to develop into typhoons, but heavy rains are occurring in Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, further exacerbating the flood conditions China has suffered this summer.


Figure 6. An unusual triple feature over the Western Pacific--three simultaneous named storms all within 700 miles of each other. Image credit: NOAA/SSD.

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question to broadcast@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line.

Today's show will be about 45 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

I may have a short update this afternoon, once the latest models runs are available.
Jeff Masters

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Quoting StormChaser81:
You have to be kidding me.

StormW thinks he's smarter than the folks at the NHC.

This comment I cant stop laughing about:
Guess I never told you that I found out they've read numerous forecasts of mine, and according to them...I definitely know what I'm doing...a lot of stuff you can find out when you go to a National Hurricane Conference.

Maybe a NHC intern reads your blog. That is so cocky it's really shows how mature you really are in real life.

Also it is just funny to watch you praise stormW when in fact he's the biggest womenizer/stalker I've seen in a long time.

Send him a message acting like a girl and hell start stalking you on facebook or through email.

I've seen it done probably three or fours times already.

I hope he gets caught by local authorities, because its wrong to do that to girls.

I'm dead serious about this.

I'm probably going to be banned for speaking the truth. But I think people should know who he really is.


Okay.. How's this about weather?? If u dont agree with stormw or others then say it to the admin.. then going on and on .. :/
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
this does not look like a clean basin sry shows activity out there
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Quoting TropicalNonsense:


StormW forecasts over the last 2 years have actually if im not mistaken have been more accurate than the NHC. Mostly in part because he is free to say what he believes without political BS getting in the way.


And if someone had said to me the things he is saying about his years of experience and knowledge being all for nothing...I would be highly upset. Ridiculous statement if I say so myself:0
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Quoting immaturehurjunkie:
Totally off topic but...I have question for all you weather experts, I'm going to be flying from Atlanta to Central America across the Gulf of Mexico. Do I have anything to worry about? Any weather issues in the area? I'm leaving tomorrow and coming back on the 6th.

Thanks guys :)


Weather in Cancun is beautiful no systems predicted for the area. Blue skys all day today.
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Ugh, the blog ate my homework. I mean, my comment.

I'm trying to create a new blog entry, but when I click "Create a New Blog Entry" or "Add New Blog Entry", it says:

This user does not appear to have a WunderBlog.

Any idea what's going on? I'm trying to make an update on the tropical cyclones that currently exist, as well as global extreme weather events this year. Is this because I only have one blog post (my info says "Posts: 0"), and what can I do to create a new entry without destroying my old blog? TIA.


P.S. I see from earlier comments that earthlydragonfly had a death in the family. I'm also very sorry to hear that, and wish you the best for your return to WU. (Also, I recently read Tuesdays With Morrie.)
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Going to need more cookies...
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922. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11
TROPICAL DEPRESSION, FORMER NAMTHEUN (T1008)
3:00 AM JST September 1 2010
=============================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression, Former Namtheun (1000 hPa) located at 25.0N 119.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest slowly

THIS IS THE FINAL TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVISORY FROM THE JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY
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I thought Earl should be doing a number on Fiona by now, looks not too much at least for now, according the NHC fiona is even forcast to get a little stronger, I don't think Fiona will clear the Leewards as much as Earl, jmo.
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919. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #23
TYPHOON KOMPASU (T1007)
3:00 AM JST September 1 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In East China Sea

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Kompasu (965 hPa) located at 28.6N 126.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 15 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

Storm Force Winds
==================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
90 NM from the center in western quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 35.3N 124.3E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 40.6N 130.4E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 42.5N 141.6E - EXTRATROPICAL
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Quoting divdog:
that is one sweet outlook for this time of year


Too bad it won't last long. Get yer wieners out and fire up the grille! Smoke em if ya got em! WE will all be affected one way or another, even if it makes us stay up late on the blog!
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


yeah, I guess I was more so wondering if the Atlantic storms could start to make it to the Caribbean and GOM...Thanks...


Well, there's always that possibility; think about Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav (just to name a few)...
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Storm I think he is stating that since you have actual common sense then you can't possibly be intelligent enough to know more about weather than the highly educated folks at the NHC. They went to big ol college and took lots of math!! Forget the fact that all you do is weather and you are employed by the US Coast guard as a weather forcaster in which billions of dollars worth of machinery and numerous lives hinge on your decisions and advice. You should just get back to work and ignore those who feel your not adequate to make forcast.
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Quoting jscs:


I'd say Storm is far better prepared than NHC folks. And to back up what someone on the blog said earlier, I just this minute saw on TWC a confirmation that the 5pm track has a 'possibly significant' westerly shift.


Wow, if they did in fact say that this is going to be real interesting!
Member Since: September 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 725
Quoting StormW:


That's what's nice about private forecasting.


yes i can just imagine how restrained those guys are at the NHC.
People forget when they visit the NHC site about the .GOV part.
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Do we really have to have daily discussions about StormW on this blog? It gets old. Let him do his thing and stop putting him at the center of some big drama.
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stormw dont be so insecure. the NHC is not one person, it is many. The consensus of opinion and perspective they can build through their team is unparalled. Clearly, you and others here really understand tropical meterology. However, the reality is your opinion is yours and the NHC's is from many. Unfortunately, not every forecaster has access to all the resources, human or otherwise, that is available to the NHC or Dr. Masters. With that beng said...I am sure there are many individuals at the NHC that you would compare equally too in terms of knowledge.
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Quoting divdog:
i would call opal and ivan pretty significant. no power for a week. 3 feet of stuff that is hard to describe in my pool. could not leave my neiborhood for 3 days because of all the power lines laying around. boats laying all over hw98 making it impossible to drive for days. no ice to be found.


My mistake on that, I forgot to put South Florida. Ivan, Opal and Charlie were all very significant hurricanes , no doubt about that.
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910. IKE
Quoting StormJunkie:


Man that's a nice an empty basin...


Look at the east ATL through the 10th...Link
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Quoting immaturehurjunkie:
Question for all you weather experts, I'm going to be flying from Atlanta to Central America across the Gulf of Mexico. Do I have anything to worry about? Any weather issues in the area? I'm leaving tomorrow and coming back on the 6th.

Thanks guys :)


You should be good to go.
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Quoting TDogg:


This. Fiona? I don't think TS, I think Shrek. Earl? Gene Chandler singing "Duke of Earl". Danielle? CareBears come to mind. But whenever I see an update on Lionrock...I'm there!
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Quoting IKE:


Here's the run through September 10th on the ECMWF.


Man that's a nice an empty basin...
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Quoting hydrus:
Several.


Any examples, and did they ride the Gulf Stream?
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Totally off topic but...I have question for all you weather experts, I'm going to be flying from Atlanta to Central America across the Gulf of Mexico. Do I have anything to worry about? Any weather issues in the area? I'm leaving tomorrow and coming back on the 6th.

Thanks guys :)
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
I have great respect for your knowledge and the time that you take to help those of us here understand what's going on, but no, I don't think that you know as much as they know.


aaaaannndd... pooof
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Quoting divdog:
i would call opal and ivan pretty significant. no power for a week. 3 feet of stuff that is hard to describe in my pool. could not leave my neiborhood for 3 days because of all the power lines laying around. boats laying all over hw98 making it impossible to drive for days. no ice to be found.


I can concur with Opal.. I was stuck in my neighborhood for 3 days b/c tree's were down, no power for couple of weeks, no ice like u said, impossible to drive too, and hott.. Yuck!
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
HurricaneEarl's heading had turned westward to 5.7degrees north of WestNorthWest
from its previous heading of 7.6degrees west of NorthWest
H.Earl's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions was 14.7mph(~23.6km/h)

30Aug . 06pmGMT - - 19.0n64.0w - - 125mph - - 955mb - - NHC.Adv.#21A
H.Earl becomes Cat.4
30Aug . 09pmGMT - - 19.3n64.7w - - 135mph - - 948mb - - #22
31Aug . 12amGMT - - 19.4n65.1w - - 135mph - - 939mb - - #22A
31Aug . 03amGMT - - 19.9n65.8w - - 135mph - - 938mb - - #23
31Aug . 06amGMT - - 19.9n66.2w - - 135mph - - 933mb - - #23A
31Aug . 09amGMT - - 20.5n66.7w - - 135mph - - 931mb - - #24
31Aug . 12pmGMT - - 20.7n67.2w - - 135mph - - 931mb - - #24A
31Aug . 03pmGMT - - 21.2n67.9w - - 135mph - - 939mb - - #25
31Aug . 06pmGMT - - 21.5n68.5w - - 135mph - - 940mb - - #25A

Copy&paste 19.0n64.0w, 19.3n64.7w, 19.4n65.1w, 19.9n65.8w, 19.9n66.2w-20.5n66.7w, 20.5n66.7w-20.7n67.2w, 20.7n67.2w-21.2n67.9w, 21.2n67.9w-21.5n68.5w, pbi, 21.5n68.5w-25.05n76.14w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the last 12hours.

Yesterday H.Earl's center had made close passage north of or had hit Anguilla,
and passed within 29miles of Anegada,BritishVirginIslands.
Using straightline projection upon the speed&heading averaged
over the 3hours spanning the last two reported positions:
~36hours from now to Eleuthera,Bahamas
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Quoting IKE:
Labor Day on the latest ECMWF...

I see it at 72 hours.

Here's 144 hours....

that is one sweet outlook for this time of year
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898. IKE
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Here's the run through September 10th on the ECMWF.
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897. jscs
Quoting ph34683:

Do you really think that no one on the planet can know more than or even as much as the NHC?


I'd say Storm is far better prepared than NHC folks. And to back up what someone on the blog said earlier, I just this minute saw on TWC a confirmation that the 5pm track has a 'possibly significant' westerly shift.
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Quoting TropicalNonsense:


StormW forecasts over the last 2 years have actually if im not mistaken have been more accurate than the NHC. Mostly in part because he is free to say what he believes without political BS getting in the way.


Precisely!!
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Quoting reedzone:
I think i'm gonna have to add some more people on my ignore list, I don't really like to do that..


haven't seen a blog update today...a pleasant atmosphere awaits...
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Quoting DebunkerOfIdiots:


That's not very clever.


just making sure you can understand it with out someone else explaining how you should feel.

this just in to the CNN news desk...we have one confirmed viewer
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Quoting Legion:


I fixed it and put S. Florida on there, the Hebert boxes are only applicable to S. Florida.


Ok gotcha now.. well I was just saying the way u had.. But i hear ya now.. its all good!
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
Here is another look a the 18z early cycle, and the 12z dynamicals...



Forecast looks solid as a rock right now in my humble opinion.
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


Even though Hurricane Opal wasnt a cat 5 that hit the Florida Panhandle.. It caused a lot of damaged and set backs.. And Hurricane Ivan did a punch too in the panhandle.. Dont forget Hurricane Charley even tho that was a compact Storm that hit punta gorda, FL..
i would call opal and ivan pretty significant. no power for a week. 3 feet of stuff that is hard to describe in my pool. could not leave my neiborhood for 3 days because of all the power lines laying around. boats laying all over hw98 making it impossible to drive for days. no ice to be found.
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sry ike but i think there could a system outhere like 98L the ecmwf is playing possum
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Quoting StormW:


The cone could shift left somewhat, but that would be up to the NHC, that's probably why they aren't putting out anything solid on that. I've got some kids to pick up from school...back in a bit


Thanks for responding!
Member Since: August 24, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 53
886. IKE
168....

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Quoting IKE:
In 120 hrs. on the 12Z ECMWF...Earl is gone and the ATL is benign looking.

Wouldn't that be something that if on Sept. 10 we had nothing to track in the Atlantic!
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Do you really think that you know as much or dare I say more than the NHC. You are joking, right?

Do you really think that no one on the planet can know more than or even as much as the NHC?
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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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