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 earthlydragonfly:


Thanks... Good to see you too!!.. My Dad passed away and was on and off during this tough time in my life. mostly reading the post... Im in good spirits though..


Sorry to hear about your loss, dfly; we're glad to have you back!
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Quoting will40:
Earl is doing the stair step movement. We will and have seen a lot of wobbles


all large storms that are major's seem to do that.
you just have to follow the long term "wobble" lol
Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
Quoting stormpetrol:
has earl moved west again
Stormpetrol, what do you think about Fiona ? She has looked to me like she is basically moving west not wnw.
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Quoting hydrus:
And Earl is gaining strength. Mimic shows almost 120 kts..

Looks like the dry air is doing a number on his western convection, though.
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Recon data shows that Earl has moved steadily WNW. No turn to the west indicated in any of the fixes.


By the same token, no turn north.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Earl will weaken significantly. That's my take; here are my reasons.

1. Wind shear from the incoming trough will tear away at the upper level anti-cyclone and tilt the tops of the convection towers to the northeast.
2. Dry air will invade the system with the weakening of the upper level anti-cyclone.
3. Earl will be moving into cooler waters as it goes north. Cooler relative to the bathwater it used for rapid intensification. Still warm enough to maintain a Cat 2 probably, if not for shear and dry air.

Earl has a huge area of dry air to traverse, quite visible on the water vapor images. Forward motion should accelerate some with the sensing of the incoming trough, and the recurve should begin in earnst late today. As the trough pushes to the coast on Thursday, the dry air will move northeast, right along with Earl.

Shear+dry air+cool coastal waters from a weak Gulf Stream will not make Earl a Cat 3. I foresee a weak Cat 2 or strong Cat 1 missing the Eastern Seaboard. Barely.

If the trough does not push through the East Coast high, Earl will slowly strike the Carolinas and Virgina before recurving. The strength of the East Coast high versus the incoming trough is the key, and the timing's getting very dicey for N. Carolina residents.

If Earl slows in the next 36 hours due to resistance from the high, I foresee a coastal landfall. If Earl accelerates, it'll be because the trough has won the battle, and recuve will begin.

This is what I see. This is what I think the models are seeing right now too.
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Recon data shows that Earl has moved steadily WNW. No turn to the west indicated in any of the fixes.
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{{{{Flood}}}
Gotta love Dr.M's blog when things heat up! LOL
Earl is a big bad boy....
Hope you are doing well!
Quoting Floodman:
Quoting marknmelb:
Ok what's wrong with this thinking.

StormW points out, and it pretty clear he's right, that Earl is starting to suck in dry air. So here's the thought.

Dry Air = Weaker Earl = more westerly track ????


The ionly issue here is that Earl is already a very large and strong system; weakening now would take a few days to telegraph throughout the system enough to substantially change the way the storm would be effected by external influences (that is, trofs, etc). He's pretty well stacked vertically and will remain the case for a while
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Quoting CaneWarning:
I'm starting to scratch my head with this storm. I hope Earl turns or the troll is right and Florida is at risk in the next day or two.
And Earl is gaining strength. Mimic shows almost 120 kts..
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Quoting ho77yw00d:



hey EDF havent seen you in awhile or I just havent been on when you were I was like "oh man I hope he didnt get struck by lightning"
glad to see you and that ur ok!! :)


Thanks... Good to see you too!!.. My Dad passed away and was on and off during this tough time in my life. mostly reading the post... Im in good spirits though..
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Quoting crashingwaves:



I will also see grocery stores jammed packed the very last minute too.Lol

yep. might wanna do your shopping now! LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
Quoting marknmelb:
Ok what's wrong with this thinking.

StormW points out, and it pretty clear he's right, that Earl is starting to suck in dry air. So here's the thought.

Dry Air = Weaker Earl = more westerly track ????


The only issue here is that Earl is already a very large and strong system; weakening now would take a few days to telegraph throughout the system enough to substantially change the way the storm would be effected by external influences (that is, trofs, etc). He's pretty well stacked vertically and will remain the case for a while
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Earl is doing the stair step movement. We will and have seen a lot of wobbles
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Quoting JRRP:
interesting
NGP
Link


NOGAPS makes landfall in Cape Hatteras, NC.
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Quoting StormW:


A storm won't penetrate high pressure, as it has an effect of a brick wall. A trof, being of lower pressure, will provide a "hole" or weakness in the steering, which creates the path of least resistance, so a storm will have a tendency to head toward it. Kind of like electrical current or hole in a water pipe. If you have a break in an electrical wire, and it shorts out, electricity will flow through the path of least resistance. If you put a small hole in a water pipe, water is going to come out (from higher pressure to lower pressure)...again, the path of least resistance.


It finally all makes sense. Thanks!
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516. 7544
bahamas is going to get caught off gaurd if he keeps wobbling west
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high looks weaker to the North of Earl and is oreinted
differently today. Hard to predict how long it will hold
out. but Earl will continue wnw until it moves or weakens.

Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
LOL The Florida wishcasters are out in full force today. Don't worry you will get your turn soon enough.
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Quoting jasblt:

I kinda noticed the same


Still looks WNW to me on sat.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Eyewall relacement is well underway with wind maxima now over 30 nautical miles from the center. Winds actually increasing since earlier today. 128kts flt level is around 115 at the surface (90% rule)
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Quoting marknmelb:
Ok what's wrong with this thinking.

StormW points out, and it pretty clear he's right, that Earl is starting to suck in dry air. So here's the thought.

Dry Air = Weaker Earl = more westerly track ????


Quoting Levi32:


It's more complicated than that. For a developing system that is most often true, however a hurricane that has already become a major has already acquired great depth in the atmosphere and that will not just go away if the storm weakens to a Cat 1 or 2. Hurricanes do not lose all of their presence in the atmospheric column once they have gained it. Thus, Earl can't be treated as a shallower storm if he weakens, unless he loses a lot of his convection which is unlikely.
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Interesting as heck - wish I could spend a bit more time with it all.

Unusual, very different dynamics going on with these storms, especially their closing proximity, intensity and eventual track. And, imo, it looks like 98L is getting better organized as well.

I'd be hardly surprised if the NHC's position doesn't change from little to something more considerable. Folks in the Bahamas and the eastern seaboard should be following all of this closely and having plans in order.
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earl is heading for the se bahamas, moving mainly west.....
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508. JRRP
interesting
NGP
Link
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Quoting MahFL:
Earl moveing south of west now........

I kinda noticed the same
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Hello all.
I need a little help.
I'm trying to compile a list of every multi-story, concrete, parking garages preferably waterfront on the east coast.
Its for Oz and the chase team. Any suggestions would be appeciated. Privately owned (like the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside for instance) or public doesn't matter. I need a list going up the east coast from Wilmington thru Cape Cod.
Thanx in advance
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Quoting earthlydragonfly:

With all due respect if that turn doesnt happen before 36 hours it has a real chance of being a big problem for Fl. And that I dont like at all.



hey EDF havent seen you in awhile or I just havent been on when you were I was like "oh man I hope he didnt get struck by lightning"
glad to see you and that ur ok!! :)
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Quoting zoomiami:
One item I haven't seen listed on preparation lists - a small stash of tools, and a few strips of wood suitable for nailing across windows or doors.

If all of your tools are in an outside area, it doesn't do you any good if you have small damage inside that needs to be taken care of.

(I speak from experience - having to go outside in the middle of Katrina to get the wood to fix a door that was blown in)


Along those same lines, if you lose a window, interior doors make a great substitute for a board in a pinch. I found that some good size deck screws like a 3 inch or so in size worked best for securing them over broken winodws or using them as exterior door cross bars. Whatever you use the fasteners need to be able to reach to a stud for retention purposes. Sadly, learned by experience as well.
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Quoting TropicalNonsense:
at this point any trends left in the models are increasingly significant.

i would expect more to come too. When the Hurricane watches
start going up along the east coast people are gonna have a cow.



I will also see grocery stores jammed packed the very last minute too.Lol
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Quoting marknmelb:
Ok what's wrong with this thinking.

StormW points out, and it pretty clear he's right, that Earl is starting to suck in dry air. So here's the thought.

Dry Air = Weaker Earl = more westerly track ????


Yep
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Is is my imagination or is Fiona trying to get better organized?
Well at least your and my imagination. It doesn't have much time left, but any organization at all will help it battle the shear.
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Brace yourselves - Earl has ceased to weaken, and his eyewall is reforming.


Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 31st day of the month at 17:27Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 309)
Storm Number & Year: 07L in 2010
Storm Name: Earl (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 6
Observation Number: 26
A. Time of Center Fix: 31st day of the month at 17:09:20Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 2121'N 6817'W (21.35N 68.2833W)
B. Center Fix Location: 184 miles (296 km) to the E (92) from Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos Islands (GBR).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,590m (8,497ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 94kts (~ 108.2mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 25 nautical miles (29 statute miles) to the WNW (302) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 43 at 109kts (From the NE at ~ 125.4mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 30 nautical miles (35 statute miles) to the NW (304) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 940mb (27.76 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 8C (46F) at a pressure alt. of 3,053m (10,016ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 20C (68F) at a pressure alt. of 3,037m (9,964ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 20C (68F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape & Diameter: Circular with a diameter of 35 nautical miles (40 statute miles)
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section - Remarks That Were Decoded...
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 128kts (~ 147.3mph) in the northeast quadrant at 15:31:10Z
Maximum Flight Level Wind Outbound: 114kts (~ 131.2mph) in the southeast quadrant at 17:19:00Z
Remarks Section - Additional Remarks...
EYEWALL IS REFORMING.
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I'm starting to scratch my head with this storm. I hope Earl turns or the troll is right and Florida is at risk in the next day or two.
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Quoting marknmelb:
Ok what's wrong with this thinking.

StormW points out, and it pretty clear he's right, that Earl is starting to suck in dry air. So here's the thought.

Dry Air = Weaker Earl = more westerly track ????


No. Earl may become weaker, but his altitude won't decrease much, so will still be influenced by the same steering currents.
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496. 7544
Quoting stormpetrol:
has earl moved west again


+ 1 hmmmmm
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Quoting stormpetrol:
has earl moved west again

Earl is wobbling westward due to the current ERC, eye wall replacement cycle...
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Also, just want to add, for all those people throwing around cat 5 yesterday, you see what happened? Do you realize how ideal conditions need to be for a hurricane to achieve cat 5 status? Earl is a minimal category 4 right now, not close to category five.
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has earl moved west again
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We should have NOGAPS and UKMET around 2PM
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Quoting Bordonaro:

It will be another Hurricane Floyd replay, NOT a good thing!!!


the Bertha 1996 track is a better analog, but probably to far west



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Quoting 2COOL:
I'd say it's far more apt to be the contractor's salesmen misleading them.

Who do you think it was that told me that my insurance company did not give me enough money to cover the repairs? How's that go...POOF! I found someone else.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
The Atlantic A.C.E. (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) for 2010 has reached 43.2125. Couple of things notable about that:

1) This year's A.C.E. has more than quadrupled in just a bit over one week's time (it stood at 9.42 last Monday morning);

2) This year's A.C.E. has already exceeded that of 1997, the "weakest" year of the current "active" hurricane period;

3) In fact, this year's A.C.E. is already higher than that of 14 of the past 60 seasons;

4) With the help of Earl's forecasted numbers alone, this year's A.C.E. will surpass 2009's total sometime tomorrow.

All this, and we're not even out of August yet. So...still want to call the season a bust? ;-)
Thank you for that breath of fresh air.
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Quoting JRRP:
CMC
GASTOOOON!!!!
Link


This is Caribbean next real problem.
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Quoting hercj:

what is predict and please link me to wherever that came from. thank you by the way.


PREDICT stands for "Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics". The mission's website is here.

GRIP is "Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes", and their website is here.

The info I posted was from the HRD's blog here.
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that was way north of where earl is,.....
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Earl looking better organized... there is some dry are interfering with the system though... i think the winds will get upto 145 mph and then peak
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Quoting jeffs713:

Annular hurricanes are one of nature's oddities. Has anyone seen if they have run the program that "scores" storms on a scale to see if they are annular?
Its on the Ships text:

## ANNULAR HURRICANE INDEX (AHI) AL072010 EARL 08/31/10 06 UTC ##
## STORM NOT ANNULAR, SCREENING STEP FAILED, NPASS=4 NFAIL=3 ##
## AHI= 0 (AHI OF 100 IS BEST FIT TO ANN. STRUC., 1 IS MARGINAL, 0 IS NOT ANNULAR) ##
## NOTE: 1 INSTEAD OF 2 GOES FILES USED

** PROBLTY OF AT LEAST 1 SCNDRY EYEWL FORMTN EVENT AL072010 EARL 08/31/2010 06 UTC **
TIME(HR) 0-12 12-24(0-24) 24-36(0-36) 36-48(0-48)
CLIMO(%) 31 31( 52) 30( 67) 31( 77) <-- PROB BASED ON INTENSITY ONLY
PROB(%) 24 76( 82) 71( 95) 62( 98) <-- FULL MODEL PROB (RAN NORMALLY)
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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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