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 rwdobson:


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


falsecaster?
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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!


The local weather people do not have access to information that we do not have.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


yeah.... haven't seen the

"great, and it looks like i'll be on the dirty side too! lol"

post yet.


Well, now that you mention it, Jeff - bring it in farther north and I WILL be on the dirty side, LOL. In which case, I'll be zoom zooming out of town. :)
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common theme isnt it?
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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!
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**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!
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Quoting rwdobson:


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


a fibcaster
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Quoting mcluvincane:


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


Actually if you look at her nick...and assume she is from NS, the landfall tracks for NS are shifting east
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721. Fluid
This may seem at first to be off-topic, but it is actually of more consequence to this group than the hurricane today:

" Oceanographic satellite data now shows that as of July 28, the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has stalled as a consequence of the BP oil spill disaster. This according to Dr. Gianluigi Zangari, an Italian theoretical physicist, and major complex and chaotic systems analyst at the Frascati National Laboratories in Italy. "

http://www.sott.net/articles/show/214379-Gulf-Loop-Current-Stalls-from-BP-Oil-Disaster-Global-Conse quences-if-Current-Fails-to-Reorganize
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Quoting medicroc:

I understand, I was just trying to explain why someone was commenting on the importance of the breakdown of the trough



Gotcha. Thanks. IMO, none of this is set completely in stone yet, no matter what the pros or the models say. No fault of theirs - it's just weather, it changes! :)
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Anything to that line of stuff developing in the souther GOM? Or is it going to continue to look like the mess taht ti currently is? LOL
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still sunny in Fl today. not too concerned about Earl ATM but that could change.. for now i am more concerned about family in the cape cod area(provincetown, new bedford, onset)
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Fiona is slightly west of the forecast points.
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anyone think earl could end up in myrtle beach just asking
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storm it is going towards the bahamas how can they say well east.....
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Quoting DestinJeff:


which one?


The steering looks a little dated (02Z) but I would be surprised if there is much change since then.
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Quoting TruthCommish:


Proabably Channel 7. They are notorious for doomcasting.


Lmao! That is so true!
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Quoting ho77yw00d:
I believe that with a negative phase and the octants coming to our basin is a set up for a "OUCH"

hope I got this right...???


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

kidding aside I think you got it.
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Good afternoon Storm!!! do you think NC is going to get a direct hit from Earl? ....and do you think that Earl will take all our rain away from us in South Florida? my plants will not be happy!! >>>you don't have to answer I know that you are busy....i kind of was just wondering alloud...lol...
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:



Not necessarily - not if it doesn't come deep enough for Earl to feel the trough's tug, and nor if the trough remains somewhat amplified even, but more tilted or flattened swest to neast - that would delay the trough's arrival somewhat, allowing Early to come closer to landfall.

I understand, I was just trying to explain why someone was commenting on the importance of the breakdown of the trough
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Doesn't seem like to many residents on the OBX are that concerned. Hope the majority are correct!!
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Quoting StormW:


Negative NAO, around the time the MJO is supposed to be back in Octants 1 & 2.

Remember Alex;Bonnie? (track). This time, we are talking most likely some Cape Verde systems...except development closer west.


ok, should the Carribean and the GOM start to get more active? When possibly?
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Quoting novascotiagal:
Looks like the models may have shifted a little east since the 11 AM update


Where do these bloggers come from posting nonsense like this. Poof
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705. xcool
you need 1500utc Steering Layer
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Quoting TropicalNonsense:


i would be careful about calling people liars 101.



ok, what do you call someone who posts an blatantly untrue statement?
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Quoting TampaTom:
Quoting latrendsetter:
Just heard on one of the tv stations that earl is still moving to wnw and if it does not start moving nw bu 11:00 pm tonight that south florida could be under the gun. there is a big meeting for all counties at 11:00 pm to evalute the situation. and coming from the governors office there is a meeting tonight in regarding earl and the situation


***VOICE YOUR OPINIONS**************






Haven't heard anything about a conference call...

No indications of one from the State EM office:

http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp


Proabably Channel 7. They are notorious for doomcasting.
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Complete update



AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Quoting TropicalNonsense:


I wouldnt buy that forecast. Im pretty sure it is based on the CMC.



Even if it is, it is the farthest model from the shore. Having that move westward is no go matter.
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XD imagine if all the trolls were right?
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697. xcool
DestinJeff old images
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Quoting StormW:


Negative NAO, around the time the MJO is supposed to be back in Octants 1 & 2.

Remember Alex;Bonnie? (track). This time, we are talking most likely some Cape Verde systems...except development closer west.


oh I see you beat me to it lol but at least I was pretty close :)
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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.


he's obviously lieing sfl is not under the gun lets be for real the nhc knows wut there talking about and sfl is a long way from even the cone
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Right now Earl's XTRP motion is right toward that weakness depicted over the Mississippi Valley....



That would ruin someone's day.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


the person who posted it is a troll and they are lying, someone did this a few days ago as well


i would be careful about calling people liars 101.

Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
Quoting medicroc:

I think the trough is what is supposed to give Earl the kick in the pants and send him further east



Not necessarily - not if it doesn't come deep enough for Earl to feel the trough's tug, and nor if the trough remains somewhat amplified even, but more tilted or flattened swest to neast - that would delay the trough's arrival somewhat, allowing Earl to come closer to landfall.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


Sorry. I have been saying NC to NJ for a few days now.

Maybe a glancing blow, but also looks like perhaps could kind if ride the coast for a bit, which is never a good thing.


Yes you have, and I have been keeping the MOM eyes open while doing other things. Still, I really thought it might just skim by 100 miles east of VaBeach, and it may still. But..... yard prep is almost finished - cars have been fueled for possible trip to the NW for a couple of days. Plenty of food in the cupboard if I think it'll be just a heavy breeze, LOL.
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Quoting TallyMike:


Huh? Florida's Emergency Management is at Level 3- the lowest level in which they are monitoring all situations- no activation of the center at this point. http://floridadisaster.org/eoc/Update/Home.asp


+1 - this is nothing but static...
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I believe that with a negative phase and the octants coming to our basin is a set up for a "OUCH"

hope I got this right...???
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Quoting TampaTom:
Quoting latrendsetter:
Just heard on one of the tv stations that earl is still moving to wnw and if it does not start moving nw bu 11:00 pm tonight that south florida could be under the gun. there is a big meeting for all counties at 11:00 pm to evalute the situation. and coming from the governors office there is a meeting tonight in regarding earl and the situation


***VOICE YOUR OPINIONS**************






Haven't heard anything about a conference call...

No indications of one from the State EM office:

http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp
yeah my hubby is the eoc rep for a city here, and he isnt on call or alerted or anyting... pffft
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Looks like the models may have shifted a little east since the 11 AM update
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684. TDogg
If this keeps up, we in Charleston might get a little more wind than I thought. Think I'll do some prep work this afternoon...just in case!
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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.