Category 4 Earl headed for a close brush with North Carolina

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

Share this Blog
5
+

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

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: 833 - 783

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 | 33Blog Index

833. Orcasystems
6:47 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Yep, I missed it, last one.


At this speed..I am going to have to start adding more :(
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
832. obxnagshead
6:47 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


the right? you mean left as in west?

Sorry, Yes West. Holding baby and typing. :)
Member Since: August 24, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 53
831. FLPandhandleJG
6:47 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting StormW:


You don't think I know as much as them?

Even know that I believe u know as much as the guys at NHC but he believes in degree then anything.. even know u bring a lot insight.. Storm W I trust ur findings then most guys at NHC and the weather channel.. But I do follow NHC tho..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
830. VAbeachhurricanes
6:47 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting StormJunkie:


Why's that make you sick? The storm is almost dead on the TFP's?




There are no models that I know of that come out at 5. The next NHC update should be 5 and they early cycle models are coming out right about now. Also, did you mean to say "shift left", because a shift right would be great!


no the shift in the models xcool just showed
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
828. divdog
6:46 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting pilotguy1:


No 90% of the hurricanes to hit South Florida went through the box. Only about 12% of the hurricanes that went through one of the boxes hit South Florida. Big difference.
so many misunderstading of the effects of going thru the box. thanks for making sure more understand just because it passes thru the box does not mean it will hit s florida.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
827. connie1976
6:46 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
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!


...lol...
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
826. StormJunkie
6:46 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


and look at the direction the storm is moving at the cord compared to the OFLC... makes me sick


Why's that make you sick? The storm is almost dead on the TFP's?


Quoting obxnagshead:


Actually it was the actual weather channel!! He said they have indications that the 5pm models will be shifted to the right..


There are no models that I know of that come out at 5. The next NHC update should be 5 and they early cycle models are coming out right about now. Also, did you mean to say "shift left", because a shift right would be great!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15634
825. nrtiwlnvragn
6:46 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


Yes there is


Yep, I missed it, last one.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10873
824. heavyweatherwatcher
6:46 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting CajunSubbie:
i think the reason for all the florida casters today.. earl did pass thru one of the hebert boxes, which predicts a south florida landfall.

Hebert Boxes are hindcasting boxes... storms that pass through the Hebert Box(es)[there are two] pass through the Hebert Box(es)... some storms that hit SFL have passed through the Hebert box... many storms that have passed through the Atlantic Hebert Box have not hit SFL; many storms that hit SFL did not pass through the Atlantic Hebert Box...
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 141
823. HarryMc
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


If I'm facing the bow of the storm, port is to my left?


Affirmative. ;)
Member Since: March 30, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 338
822. xcool
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
jason2010xxxx wait for next to seing if going Survivor
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
821. Engine2
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:
looks like the 18zzzzzz's don't like that trough too much.
18z? isnt it too early for that?
Member Since: February 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 482
820. IKE
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
819. TDogg
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting Surfcropper:
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd be scared if Hurricane Lionrock came around my neighborhood. Why can't the Atlantic region get more creative with storm names? I say we go Native American one year. Hurricane Running Bear...Tropical Storm Thunder Horse...Hurricane Bleeding Cloud



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!
Member Since: December 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 32
817. Orcasystems
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


If I'm facing the bow of the storm, port is to my left?


this is true :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
816. novascotiagal
6:45 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting Hurricanes4life:
12Z GFS is not looking good for the major populations center of NS (Halifax county and Halifax metro). Landfalls in NS are shifting east.


I agree! The models have shifted east for NS. We definitely do not need another hurricane here in Halifax - hopefully it keeps trending east.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
814. StormPro
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting DestinJeff:
Right now Earl's XTRP motion is right toward that weakness depicted over the Mississippi Valley....


Holy Crap Jeff....what is your gut telling you on the future track?
Member Since: August 4, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 606
812. VAbeachhurricanes
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting StormW:


I'm a bold person.


never questioned that!!!! lol!
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
811. Orcasystems
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Ok, everyone is PORT of track... maybe we should start drinking PORT (tastes like cr*p)?





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
810. kwgirl
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting KennyNebraska:
Infamous chaser just updated FB with the following.

Earl Chase Update: I was able to get the last available hotel room in Buxton, NC (Cape Hatteras.) The hotel is 200 yards off the beach. The 2nd floor balcony overlooks: (2) gas stations, multiple wood-framed homes with pitched roofs, and telephone poles with serious electric cable and major transformers. Front desk clerk said that no one is evacuating, and if orders were even given, they still would not leave. Island is packed with Labor Day vacationers and media. No one is leaving. The questions are: How deep will the water get? and How much damage will the winds do? Our website http://7674u.com will be a must see event once Earl starts coming ashore!
I just spoke to my sister in Va. Beach. She said that they are preparing for labor day events on the beach. Since she went through Hugo in PR, she knows to get ready in case. But she did state that No One wants to make the call for evacuation. She doesn't leave anyway. Traffic Jam on the bridges and tunnels.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
809. FloridaHeat
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
it is possible this may not even make landfall at all
Member Since: July 31, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 357
808. WatchingThisOne
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:
Earl is still Port of track and NOT turning




Fiona is PORT of track also





If I'm facing the bow of the storm, port is to my left?
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1262
807. VAbeachhurricanes
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


the right? you mean left as in west?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
806. shadoclown45
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/214379-Gulf-Loop-Current-Stalls-from-BP-Oil-Disaster-Global-Conse quences-if-Current-Fails-to-Reorganize

Ok well im off to go stock up on beans, gas, and to buy a generator... this is all BP's fault. -_-
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
805. Floodman
6:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting TexasHurricane:


ok, should the Carribean and the GOM start to get more active? When possibly?


Storms can always spin up in the GOM or the Carib, but typically this time of year they are mostly CV and mid MDR systems; the GOM and Carib seasons are the early season (June -July) and late season(Oct.- Nov.)
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
804. Vero1
6:43 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting twooks:
Evening ladies and gents.

Seems like earl is eating some dry air on its westside?


That is the exhaust from the HH aircraft
Member Since: July 21, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 2233
802. CosmicEvents
6:43 PM GMT on August 31, 2010
Quoting StormW:


You don't think I know as much as them?
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.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5523
Quoting StormW:


You don't think I know as much as them?

+1
Member Since: March 30, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 338
Quoting obxnagshead:


Actually it was the actual weather channel!! He said they have indications that the 5pm models will be shifted to the right..


the right? you mean left as in west?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
Quoting StormW:


Thanks Connie.

Wanted to work for the NHC, but they won't hire me because I don't have a degree.


well, their loss!! I think it's impressive that you don't.... :)
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
796. xcool
AL, 98, 2010083118, , BEST, 0, 120N, 310W, 25, 1009, DB
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
storm, earl has moved .6 west since 11am
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


You don't think I know as much as them?


Thats a bold statement storm...
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
Quoting Portlight:
Jeff Masters will be on the Hurricane Haven radio program today @ 4pm EST....it's possible he might mention Earl...Link
lol
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20488
Quoting msgambler:
Ohh Orca missed ya, sorry. Hello Orca


Good morning... or afternoon down there :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Alockwr21:


Which station? It's not WITN down there is it?


Actually it was the actual weather channel!! He said they have indications that the 5pm models will be shifted to the right..
Member Since: August 24, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 53
Quoting xcool:
maybe a shift to west
soon







maybe a shift to west
soon


and look at the direction the storm is moving at the cord compared to the OFLC... makes me sick
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
Ohh Orca missed ya, sorry. Hello Orca
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dunkman:


The local weather people do not have access to information that we do not have.
Not to any specific data, no, but they do communicate a lot of the local national weather service offices.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


No Fiona HH picture?


Yes there is
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
good afternoon everyone
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
783. xcool
maybe a shift to west
soon







maybe a shift to west
soon
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620

Viewing: 833 - 783

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 | 33Blog 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.