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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From (Norfolk, VA newspaper) Virginian Pilot online today:
The Navy is at Hurricane Condition Four, meaning destructive winds are possible within 72 hours, according to a Navy news release. Navy personnel and familes were being urged to review their checklists and evacuation plans in case the storm's track changes, bringing the Category 4 storm and its winds of 135 mph closer to shore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I can't tell anyone what or what not to do, but if it talks like a troll, walks like a troll and smells like a troll, it is most likely a troll...quoting them only makes them bolder
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Earl continues moving WNW, last frame took a jog to the west.. The Bahamas may need some Hurricane watches, but still, the turn northwest will happen very soon.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Please, people! Please disregard the cumulative effect of slight model shifts ... they mean nothing.

Exhibit A:


Starting to feel like you are talking to a brick wall?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting rwdobson:
A 50 mile shift on a model run is not really that big a deal; the models aren't that precise. The two runs are essentially the same.

Obviously a 50 mile shift in the actual track would be a big deal...


Good point......However at this point, all of the folks on the Eastern Seabord north of the Carolinas, who are not used to this on a regular basis, need to make sure they have requisite supplies on hand such as water/batteries/canned food, etc, just in case....The further inland that the winds come in, the more power outages and the like across those States......At least they have the long-weekend to clean up afterwards.
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Quoting Bonedog:


sounds like a Keys style evac. Well at least the get the nonlocals out before it gets too crazy


Have not heard this...
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DestinJeff-

We are all doom.
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Quoting philliesrock:
It's not a large westward shift like everyone thinks. You're being fooled. The GFS is just slower, which gives the illusion of a farther west movement. Compare 84 hours on BOTH the 6z and 12z GFS. They're both about the same in terms of location. The QPF field also looks about the same, if not maybe 10-20 miles west.


i said just a tad west man
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
That's really close...



Yeah. This is looking potentially very bad for the OBX. I can tell you that locals here are extremely complacent when it comes to evacuating for recurving storms.

Isabel was our last big storm, and the entire OBX hasn't experienced a storm like this since at least Emily of '93. Emily's eye stayed offshore, although Hatteras Island was in the western eyewall...

If Earl were to clip the Outer Banks, places north (Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Duck, Corolla) that usually feel less impacts are going to get delivered an incredible blow...

I'm serious y'all... an intense hurricane making landfall near or around Ocracoke Island and moving northward up the NC coast is what EVERYONE here KNOWS AS A NIGHTMARE SCENARIO for this area.

If the waves aren't enough, around here we have the Pamlico and Albemarle sound, and these bodies of water can inundate the Outer Banks with feet upon feet upon feet of water...

I'm very worried about this.
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Quoting rwdobson:


But this shift is so small, it's not really even a shift. It could be due to nothing more than different input data. The 6z and 18z runs have less data fed into them than the 0z and 12z runs.


exactly so this is more accurate and the L is touching OBX...
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Quoting PanhandleChuck:


LMAO


Unfortunately, more people will react to something like that than anything. :P
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting philliesrock:
It's not a large westward shift like everyone thinks. You're being fooled. The GFS is just slower, which gives the illusion of a farther west movement. Compare 84 hours on BOTH the 6z and 12z GFS. They're both about the same in terms of location. The QPF field also looks about the same, if not maybe 10-20 miles west.


actually none of the previous gfs runs broke 75W this one has it at like 77W
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Quoting angiest:


But they have shift west with most every run and have done so for quite awhile.


But this shift is so small, it's not really even a shift. It could be due to nothing more than different input data. The 6z and 18z runs have less data fed into them than the 0z and 12z runs.
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214. DVG
Listened to the ATC, my pilot ( 777 ) and other pilots on our frequency going to europe and back once. Interesting. As altitude changed you got a new frequency. You could tell who was in front and behind you as they came and went.

Landing in Dulles, the ATC kept telling someone to get off the runway as our 777 heavy was a mile out. There was a tropical storm near, and visibility was poor.

Also was another TS as we took off.( Had one leaving and another returning.) The lights blinked the radio died and we dropped pretty signifigantly. I thought for a sec and hit the power button on the radio to hear the pilot. He was doing whatever he normally does.
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Quoting philliesrock:
It's not a large westward shift like everyone thinks. You're being fooled. The GFS is just slower, which gives the illusion of a farther west movement. Compare 84 hours on BOTH the 6z and 12z GFS. They're both about the same in terms of location. The QPF field also looks about the same, if not maybe 10-20 miles west.


about 30-50 miles west of the last run, not really a big shift.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Link

Some good news, Earl actually a little east of TFP.
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storm,wont warnings for bahamas be needed....
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I smell blog police.......later.
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It's not a large westward shift like everyone thinks. You're being fooled. The GFS is just slower, which gives the illusion of a farther west movement. Compare 84 hours on BOTH the 6z and 12z GFS. They're both about the same in terms of location. The QPF field also looks about the same, if not maybe 10-20 miles west.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Alert the MEDIA....

Snooki is doom.


LMAO
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07L/MH/E/C4
MARK
21.49N/68.03w
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting rwdobson:
A 50 mile shift on a model run is not really that big a deal; the models aren't that precise. The two runs are essentially the same.

Obviously a 50 mile shift in the actual track would be a big deal...


But they have shift west with most every run and have done so for quite awhile.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
A 50 mile shift on a model run is not really that big a deal; the models aren't that precise. The two runs are essentially the same.

Obviously a 50 mile shift in the actual track would be a big deal...
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Quoting angiest:


Although the OP is definitely out to lunch... Earl has been forecast to turn to the NW for several days now and so far has not done so. Why is this time expected to be different?


Agreed
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Quoting Zeec94:


Check the NOGAPS?


nope it bad for us?
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193. srada
Quoting will40:


so far it looks like a tad further on this run


that looks like it puts the entire eastern NC back in play like the 11pm update from last night..we might be back in the cone again come the 3pm update..
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192. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #38
TROPICAL STORM LIONROCK (T1006)
0:00 AM JST September 1 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In South China Sea

At 15:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Lionrock (990 hPa) located at 20.9N 119.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east northeast at 10 knots

Dvorak Intensity:

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center in southeast quadrant
90 NM from the center in northwest quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 23.2N 119.0E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
45 HRS: 24.0N 116.9E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 24.5N 113.6E - Tropical Depression
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Quoting Floodman:


Exactly...


Definitely in my case it wasn't the adjuster that was the problem, it was the people holding the money...
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting zoomiami:
apocalyps:


This person is a troll & lots of people have him/her/it on ignore.

During busy seasons the person who continually quotes these people can also be banned.


I doubt that. If the troll isn't banned, how the heck can you ban someone for quoting him?
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Quoting zoomiami:
apocalyps:


This person is a troll & lots of people have him/her/it on ignore.

During busy seasons the person who continually quotes these people can also be banned.


Do you have to be a member to use the ignore feature?
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Quoting zoomiami:
apocalyps:


This person is a troll & lots of people have him/her/it on ignore.

During busy seasons the person who continually quotes these people can also be banned.


i am sorry i did not realize the person was a troll
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AMZ100-312115-
513 AM EDT TUE AUG 31 2010


.SYNOPSIS FOR EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA COASTAL WATERS...
HIGH PRES WILL CONTINUE TO EXTEND OVER THE REGION FROM THE NW
THROUGH WED NIGHT. SWELLS FROM HURRICANE EARL WILL BEGIN TO
IMPACT THE COASTAL WATERS TUE NIGHT AND BUILD INTO THU. MARINERS
SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF EARL CLOSELY.

$$






AMZ135-312115-
PAMLICO SOUND-
513 AM EDT TUE AUG 31 2010

TODAY...NW WINDS 5 KT...BECOMING E THIS AFTERNOON. WAVES
1 FT.

TONIGHT
E WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. WAVES 1 FT.

WED
NE WINDS 5 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WAVES
1 FT.

WED NIGHT
E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT. WAVES 1 TO 2 FT.

THU
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS POSSIBLE. NE WINDS 20 TO 25 KT...
INCREASING TO 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 45 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.
WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

THU NIGHT
HURRICANE CONDITIONS POSSIBLE.


FRI
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS POSSIBLE.


FRI NIGHT
SW WINDS 15 TO 20 KT...DIMINISHING TO 10 TO 15 KT AFTER
MIDNIGHT. WAVES 2 TO 3 FT.

SAT
NW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...DIMINISHING TO 5 TO 10 KT IN THE
AFTERNOON. WAVES 1 TO 2 FT IN THE MORNING...THEN 1 FT.

$$
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Man o man that gfs looks scary as hell.
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1404
Quoting philliesrock:

Looks like you'll have to eat some crow once Earl curves north later today/tonight!


Although the OP is definitely out to lunch... Earl has been forecast to turn to the NW for several days now and so far has not done so. Why is this time expected to be different?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
....must be the experts at the local Dairy Queen because the only thing in your cone is ice cream.
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162: Expert trolls
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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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