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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783. xcool
maybe a shift to west
soon







maybe a shift to west
soon
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting moonlightcowboy:



StormW has well-earned his respect. He's a smart man - I listen, see what he has to say. But, I think he'd be quick to admit, too, that he's not always right himself, and can make mistakes (though rare maybe). That doesn't make him a bad guy or a forecasting king either - it just means that it's weather - it changes.

ALL DUE RESPECT, StormW! Thanks for all that you make available to folks! :)


nobody is perfect I get this I am just saying... he is great at what he does and I trust his forecasting yes he may be wrong at times (who isnt) but for the most part he knows what is going on :)
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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


Excellent idea! XD
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Well, all I know is GOM is safe for now and too much BS in here for me to hang around. Storm, D'Fly, hope you are well and we will see ya another time.
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Evening ladies and gents.

Seems like earl is eating some dry air on its westside?
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Quoting Becca36:

Which TV station did you hear this on? I am NOT a Florida caster by any means, but I have that "feeling" I get just before a storm hits. Now, I am aware that could be due to the fact that it's just kind of close by...I have seen at least two times when it was said that we have nothing to worry about only to be taken by surprise. Not worried or anything, just wondering if it's not outside the realm of possibility.


gutcaster?

sorry had to :)
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I'm gonna get me some of those pink StormW shades, head down to the islands lookin as relaxed as KManIslander, and party like DestinJeff.

BBL
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12Z GFS is not looking good for the major populations center of NS (Halifax county and Halifax metro). Landfalls in NS are shifting east.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Complete update



AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI


No Fiona HH picture?
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Yep...it's there...right on the tip of my virtual tongue..................

Nope, not gonna say it!


Bustcast = BB Blonde who forecast weather?
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Quoting obxnagshead:
OK Local weather said latest models to be out at 5 indicate a shift to the WEST!!! Now maybe folks will start to PAY ATTENTION!


What station? City and State please!
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Quoting ho77yw00d:
**LOOK** people (the ones who are casting for a FLA hit or worried of a FLA hit), Storm w would be the first to tell us if this were the case he lives here in FLA and he has told us all that Earl will not be coming to FLA! just listen to the real experts here and ignore these trolls who are just trying to get this blog going!
Honestly, the first people I would listen to are the NHC. Then, weatherguy03. Then StormW, Levi, and many others here on this blog. Again, I can't stress enough that I listen to the NHC first...and use what I read from others on this blog as "supplemental" material.
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Quoting novascotiagal:
What are you talking about? I am just making an observation - you are not looking at the same models perhaps??? It was a very slight shift I might add.


So sorry. I didn't see that u were from Nova Scotia
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Quoting angiest:


You're not supposed to notice he's not going where he is forecast to go (and although it looks slight it can have dramatic consequences down the road).


hahaha, ive been noticeing for 3 days now... good thing i already did all my shopping, so if/when they put up the watches at 5 i wont be alone. I hope they do it at 5 cause putting one up at 11 is pointless with everyone already asleep.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6624
Quoting StormW:


Bustcaster


Yep...it's there...right on the tip of my virtual tongue..................

Nope, not gonna say it!
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:



StormW has well-earned his respect. He's a smart man - I listen, see what he has to say. But, I think he'd be quick to admit, too, that he's not always right himself, and can make mistakes (though rare maybe). That doesn't make him a bad guy or a forecasting king either - it just means that it's weather - it changes.

ALL DUE RESPECT, StormW! Thanks for all that you make available to folks! :)


Much praise to StormW, Orca, Flood and Tampa for all the useful info on here....
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Quoting DestinJeff:


"Next day or so"


For sufficiently large definitions "or so."
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Quoting ho77yw00d:
**LOOK** people (the ones who are casting for a FLA hit or worried of a FLA hit), Storm w would be the first to tell us if this were the case he lives here in FLA and he has told us all that Earl will not be coming to FLA! just listen to the real experts here and ignore these trolls who are just trying to get this blog going!


+10
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Quoting obxnagshead:
OK Local weather said latest models to be out at 5 indicate a shift to the WEST!!! Now maybe folks will start to PAY ATTENTION!


They've shifted the models west everytime they've updated. They've been way off.
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Quoting StormW:


Not so sure about a direct hit...if he turns late, then the OBX and places like Hatteras could possibly see a direct hit. He could pull some moisture away from FL...but I think it may not be for long. I'll have a look at precip pops in a little.


You will tell me or write on your blog something and then a couple hours later finally the news catch up to what you are saying!! lol You should be on the weather channel!!!
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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.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


common theme isnt it?


You're not supposed to notice he's not going where he is forecast to go (and although it looks slight it can have dramatic consequences down the road).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DebunkerOfIdiots:


A faithful Fox News viewer ?


you arent banned yet?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6624
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


common theme isnt it?


Well west of model consensus
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Quoting ho77yw00d:
**LOOK** people (the ones who are casting for a FLA hit or worried of a FLA hit), Storm w would be the first to tell us if this were the case he lives here in FLA and he has told us all that Earl will not be coming to FLA! just listen to the real experts here and ignore these trolls who are just trying to get this blog going!



StormW has well-earned his respect. He's a smart man - I listen, see what he has to say. But, I think he'd be quick to admit, too, that he's not always right himself, and can make mistakes (though rare maybe). That doesn't make him a bad guy or a forecasting king either - it just means that it's weather - it changes.

ALL DUE RESPECT, StormW! Thanks for all that you make available to folks! :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ho77yw00d:
**LOOK** people (the ones who are casting for a FLA hit or worried of a FLA hit), Storm w would be the first to tell us if this were the case he lives here in FLA and he has told us all that Earl will not be coming to FLA! just listen to the real experts here and ignore these trolls who are just trying to get this blog going!


Well, you're no fun. :)
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750. CJ5
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:



Just checkin in....

I am on the triangle shaped island near the left side.

No rain yet, 15-20 mph breeze from the North.

CRS


Ouch...based on that image, I would secure my things, find my best bottle of rum and throw the cork away! :)
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Quoting obxnagshead:
OK Local weather said latest models to be out at 5 indicate a shift to the WEST!!! Now maybe folks will start to PAY ATTENTION!


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


A Fox News anchorperson ???


XD
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Earl should finally get the NW heading by the 5 advisory, I would think, if NHC discussion from 11 holds.


5 on what day?
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Quoting obxnagshead:
OK Local weather said latest models to be out at 5 indicate a shift to the WEST!!! Now maybe folks will start to PAY ATTENTION!

Please, to cut down on blog traffic at busy times, when you make a post like this please include source so you don't get a thousand requests for same. Thanks
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.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
Quoting EastCarolina:


He may very well wobble his way more west than the models predict
Quoting mcluvincane:


Where do these bloggers come from posting nonsense like this. Poof


What are you talking about? I am just making an observation - you are not looking at the same models perhaps??? It was a very slight shift I might add.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
Quoting obxnagshead:
Doesn't seem like to many residents on the OBX are that concerned. Hope the majority are correct!!


A lot of residents in Galveston and New Orleans were not concearned either. If they were concearned they didn't act. The East coast is no virgin to storms. People should know what to expect and act.
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Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


common theme isnt it?

Yeah and its getting OLD lol
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Jeff Masters will be on the Hurricane Haven radio program today @ 4pm EST....it's possible he might mention Earl...Link
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Quoting earthlydragonfly:


as far as I can tell...... You got it, all right! LOL JK

kidding aside I think you got it.


haha lol well Thanks to storm,Levi and a few others I have really began to learn/process so much info :) I see you still have your humor :P
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:






It looks as if the deep, longwave CONUS trough is getting split by the huge high pressure diving seast from the nwest.

what does that mean for earl? thanks in advance
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
Quoting rwdobson:


ok, what do you call someone who posts an blatantly untrue statement?


falsecaster?
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 72

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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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