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: 683 - 633

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

681. xcool
rip Fiona
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Sting13:
Update from CHC


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

Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
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**************





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
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Engine2:
What exactly does that mean for Earl's future track?

I think the trough is what is supposed to give Earl the kick in the pants and send him further east
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


That's news to me.. no word of any conference calls yet

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

No indications of one from the State EM office:

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


the person who posted it is a troll and they are lying, someone did this a few days ago as well
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
674. xcool
btwntx08 lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Earl getting on my last nerve.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DestinJeff:
Here is the 941mb steering layer:




I'm new to steering game, how is this storm going to go "North" when this pic would make it look like it should go west?? Again please excuse my greenish question....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting westernmob:
I smell a fish.


then go have a shower
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Thanks storm it looks that shear will be high until friday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
668. Vero1
TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
205 PM EDT TUE AUG 31 2010

BASED ON 1200 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY
THROUGH 1745 UTC.

...SPECIAL FEATURES...

THE CENTER OF HURRICANE EARL AT 31/1800 UTC WAS ESTIMATED NEAR
21.5N 68.5W...OR ABOUT 170 NM TO THE E OF GRAND TURK
ISLAND...MOVING WEST-NORTHWESTWARD 12 KT. THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM
CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 940 MB. THE MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS
ARE 116 KT WITH GUSTS TO 140 KT. PLEASE READ THE LATEST NHC
FORECAST/ADVISORY UNDER AWIPS/WMO HEADERS MIATCMAT2/WTNT22 KNHC
AND THE LATEST PUBLIC ADVISORY UNDER MIATCPAT2/WTNT32 KNHC FOR
MORE DETAILS. NUMEROUS STRONG SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE FROM
18N TO 25N BETWEEN 65W AND 71W.

THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM FIONA AT 31/1500 UTC IS NEAR 16.3N
56.8W...MOVING WEST-NORTHWESTWARD 21 KT. THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM
CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1006 MB. THE MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS
ARE 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT. PLEASE READ THE LATEST NHC
FORECAST/ADVISORY UNDER AWIPS/WMO HEADERS MIATCMAT3/WTNT23 KNHC
AND THE PUBLIC ADVISORY UNDER MIATCPAT3/WTNT33 KNHC FOR MORE
DETAILS. STRONG RAINSHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE FROM 13N TO
20N BETWEEN 54W AND 60W.

...TROPICAL WAVES...

AN ATLANTIC OCEAN TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 16N27W 11N29W 5N29W. A
1009 MB LOW PRESSURE CENTER IS EMBEDDED IN THE WAVE NEAR 10N28W.
THE WAVE IS MOVING WESTWARD 10-15 KT. SCATTERED STRONG
RAINSHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE FROM 6N TO 13N BETWEEN 29W AND
36W. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Zeec94:


Again the CHC moved west a bit. Tiny bit, but nonetheless west.


Yes, and also it has it maintaining cat1 status at landfall, earlier it was supposed to be TS
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Which post?


622
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I smell a fish.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Sting13:
Update from CHC


Again the CHC moved west a bit. Tiny bit, but nonetheless west.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Update from CHC
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Gee thanks, DJeff. And would that take EARL back out right over my head, or just a bit south? Either way I get branches to clean up, eh?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yeah looking at the last 4 HH fixes it seems the average to me is something like 305...really need some more north soon. It's bad enough Earl has ruined my Labor Day weekend at the beach, don't ruin the beach too!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Zeec94:


Yes Florida is going to suffer a direct hit from Earl at CAT 6 speed (first storm ever). Go board up now! *rolls eyes*

What is with all these Florida casters today?
LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormsAreCool:


Well, Earl has defied the models ever since he formed. There is a very good chance he will continue to do so. Models and forecasts are fine for guides, but observation is just as important a tool. Everyone should just keep paying attention and be prepared no matter where you live.


He will continue WNW for another 10-14 hours now. Then turn NW. He just needs to finish the Eyewall reformation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Zeec94:


Yes Florida is going to suffer a direct hit from Earl at CAT 6 speed (first storm ever). Go board up now! *rolls eyes*

What is with all these Florida casters today?


Well, Earl has defied the models ever since he formed. There is a very good chance he will continue to do so. Models and forecasts are fine for guides, but observation is just as important a tool. Everyone should just keep paying attention and be prepared no matter where you live.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


What does this mean Storm?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Engine2:
What exactly does that mean for Earl's future track?


You'll likely have to rely on the pros in here, but, imo, the scenario is still considerably fluid. Much can change yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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**************




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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RecordSeason:
Um...

2 to 1 ratio is NOT NW...


What data are you guys using? Look at the previous 3 updates and the new one.

Earl did exactly 2 to 1 W to N again, same as the previous 24 hours average.

That's still WNW.


i agree. i was wondering the same thing. certainly is not NW.
but more like WNW+slightly more north than yesterday.
Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
645. MWH
Quoting DestinJeff:
Look for 12Z Euro to get to right about 78W/33N before you see an easterly component in vector. Landfall between Wilmington and Hatteras.



Thanks for the heads up, since I am exactly half way between Wilmington and Hatteras, on the beach!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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 exactly does that mean for Earl's future track?
Member Since: February 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 482
Anyone still feel westerdly track towards Florida is still possible??? The high seems to not outpacing Earl, nor does the trough behind it seem strong enough to immediately kick him out to sea.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RecordSeason:
Um...

2 to 1 ratio is NOT NW...


What data are you guys using? Look at the previous 3 updates and the new one.

Earl did exactly 2 to 1 W to N again, same as the previous 24 hours average.

That's still WNW.


It won't do any good to argue a point, It's the same guys that said it was going north 3 days ago..and it's still wnw
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Yes ma'am!



YEAH I wonder who I learned that from... *wink *wink
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TallyMike:
Why do so many of the folks here say Earl is where (insert favorite storm name here) was in( insert year here) and therefore I need to panic? Although many of the models are based on historical paths, to assume it will do what another storm did just because it is in the same location ignores all the current weather patterns exerting influence on the storm......


I think some are looking for some type of correlation to what has already happened. In other words comparison to historical knowns...

For others I think it is more of a PTSD issue. If you rode out a good one and another storm is sitting in approximateley the same spot..... I have had a pucker experience or two over the years when something was brewing in a location that had already sent an unwelcome visitor to my home before. A perfect example would be these early season cold fronts. Each time one makes it to the gulf and "percolates" one of the first thoughts in my head is "Alicia".

Written by an individual who has a couple of "sensitive" oceanagraphic locations of his own...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:






It looks as if the deep, longwave CONUS trough is getting split by the huge high pressure diving seast from the nwest.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


Thank you.. it will. it was quite the celebration for my father.. over 700 people came to the funeral. there was a line from the church to the burial site over 2 miles long.. My daddy did everything big1 He was a singer that sang like Frank Sinatra and at the end of the ceremony we gave my father a standing ovation. it was such a cool send off!



GAVE ME CHILLS!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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
Damn...I would say you might get some rough weather from this one.
Quoting TropicalNonsense:
interesting how the trough that is supposed to turn Earl is not looking all that strong today.

That "trough" will probably flatten out east to west also. That in my opinion might change the forecast track a bit too.jmo:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
how can it be way east its going wnw
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 226

Viewing: 683 - 633

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.