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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162: Expert trolls
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Quoting Dunkman:
What is that, a 50-60 mile westward shift in the GFS? My eyes aren't quite as good as they used to be.


You are correct. Those eyes haven't failed you yet. However I bet people on the OBX wish they had.
Member Since: June 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 126
Quoting Floodman:
I'm glad that songman77 broached this subject in the last blog; I too am in the insurance industry. I run field operations for an Independent Adjusting firm and we contract our services to a number of carriers in hurricane prone areas. I'll go one step further than songman did with this: if you have any questions about any of this, feel free to WUMail me; if the load becomes too great I can't guarantee that I'll answer every one, but I will do my best...
I want to repeat some of the thigs that songman mentioned, not the least of which is that as adjuster, we make our money based on the amount of legitimate damages we can write into your estimate. All thosse rumoars you hear that adjusters make money based on what they save the carriers are nonsense and we, as adjusters, work for you every bit as much as we work for the carrier.

That having been said, I want to asdd to waht songman said in the last blog:

Quoting songman77:
Third bit of advice-Depreciation. Depreciation is simply the difference between what something is worth now and what it would cost to replace it. This is where you need to read your policy. Some policies do not pay depreciation, meaning they will only pay what your home is worth now, not what it would cost to repair it. If your policy does pay depreciation, it is often paid as a second installment, and you have to ask for it. I’ve learned that many adjusters do not explain depreciation well and the homeowners think that the first payment is all they get from the company. Read everything you get from the insurance company, and if you don’t understand something, ask the adjuster. It’s part of his job to make sure you understand your settlement.
Sorry for the books, hope I helped someone


A word about depreciation: in general, there are two types of depreciation, recoverable, and non-recoverable. Recoverable depreciation is paid to you after the repairs have been completed; some carriers will want to have an adjuster re-inspect to verify the repairs have been completed, others will take copies of your paid repair invoices and release the money from that. Most items in your estimate will be recoverable; the information about what is recoverable and what is not is in your policy so you will need to read it and make sure you understand it.

Non-recoverable depreciation is just that: money that is taken from an item in the estimate that will not be repaid. Typically fences, carpeting and in some cases roofing are ACV (actual cash value) items and no depreciation monies are recoverable for those items.

As songman states, depreciation is based on the current cash value of an item; for example, a roof with a useful service life of 25 years that has been on your home for 10 years would typically be depreciated 40% but depreciation is subjective; if I walk your 10 year old roof and it looks like it's 5 years old I will certainly depreciate it less than 40%...

One final word: mitigation. Your policy will have a paragraph dedicated to what your responsibilities are post storm; in a nutshell, you are responsible for making sure that the damage gets no worse. If your roof is compromised, you need to get a tarp on it...if you have a blown out window, you're responsible for boarding it up. After hurricanes and other large scale natural disasters most carriers will be a little more lax about mitigation because they know that contractors that do that sort of work will be overloaded, but you have to take some action to ensure that your home takes no more damage.

And now back to our regularly scheduled weather discussion


Floodman~~ Good Morning, What you wrote I couldn't of said it any better. I always try to take care of the insured. They have went thru a lot when we have to come out and we are there to take care of there needs, not to take away from them in the hour of need. I always try to be fair. There are some out there that try to take advantage of a catastrophe.
sheri
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Quoting Dunkman:
For those wondering about the OBX and evacuations, my folks live there and apparently they started evacuations of non-residents on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands yesterday afternoon.


sounds like a Keys style evac. Well at least the get the nonlocals out
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Quoting Dunkman:
What is that, a 50-60 mile westward shift in the GFS? My eyes aren't quite as good as they used to be.


yet again... yes
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Quoting Dunkman:
For those wondering about the OBX and evacuations, my folks live there and apparently they started evacuations of non-residents on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands yesterday afternoon.


Ocracoke is only accessible by ferry so they definitely needed to get started on that. Anyone who hasn't left by the time the storm approaches will be stuck.
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Quoting StormW:
Quoting apocalyps:
Now that it is almost sure Earl will hit florida we should start thinking about Earl making it into the GOM.


Get off of it!


Lol. I have been a very long time fan Dr. Masters. I have never posted or wanted to give any input as i have much of little to offer. I would just like to ask you Dr. Masters Earl seems to have 2 eye walls. An inner and outter eyewall. The inner wall seems to have collapsed and which is to be replaced by a much bigger outter eyewall. If this is the case and it does occur could Earl lose speed and come to a stall? Thank you for all your great info.
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Quoting Dunkman:
For those wondering about the OBX and evacuations, my folks live there and apparently they started evacuations of non-residents on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands yesterday afternoon.


sounds like a Keys style evac. Well at least the get the nonlocals out before it gets too crazy
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Quoting rareaire:
Floodman , Well said. I tire of people thinking its the adjuster whos out to get them. We in the industry know thats far from the truth. It is so important that folks clearly read that policy before they need to know whats in it...


Exactly...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
hi storm, wont they need warnings for the bahamas.....
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 226
173. DVG
Anybody have any thoughts about the upper low on the Ms Al border and it's impact on the continental ridging?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
GREAT........

11:30 a.m.
We are tracking and monitoring Hurricane Earl. Prepare for potential campus evacuation. Visit www.readyvirginia.gov for evacuation preparedness information. Should a decision be made to evacuate, students will have two hours to leave campus and will be responsible for their own transportation. The next update will be posted by 8 p.m. this evening, with an additional posting at approximately 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

These updates are also available at the toll-free number 1 (866) 239-2268.


Check the NOGAPS?
Member Since: June 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 126
Quoting Bonedog:
its funnyn that the troll being quoted is actually my number 1 person on my ignore list LOL

Stop feeding the troll guys and also please stop quoting him.


Exactly
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What is that, a 50-60 mile westward shift in the GFS? My eyes aren't quite as good as they used to be.
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Member Since: February 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 482
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.
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165. myway
Quoting FloridaHeat:


what are you smoking


Do not feed IT
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Quoting Floodman:


He'd already covered that...but it's one of the most common mistakes that insureds make: thinking that they're covered for everything.

My offer still stands: anyone with questions in regards to their policies or what they need to be doing to prepare for a landfall can WUMail me and I will happily answer as many questions as I can

Same here Floodman, any questions from anyone? WU mail. Now is the time to get answers. Not after the fact when you realize that you have minimal or no coverage. Stinks to tell someone they aren't covered after going through a storm.
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GREAT........

11:30 a.m.
We are tracking and monitoring Hurricane Earl. Prepare for potential campus evacuation. Visit www.readyvirginia.gov for evacuation preparedness information. Should a decision be made to evacuate, students will have two hours to leave campus and will be responsible for their own transportation. The next update will be posted by 8 p.m. this evening, with an additional posting at approximately 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

These updates are also available at the toll-free number 1 (866) 239-2268.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For those interested in informative real time information as a storm approaches or passes, LiveATC.net has airport tower feeds from most major airports in the US and Caribbean and great to listen to during storms and severe weather events. As Earl approaches the US, you have good Eastern Seaboard tower coverage from Charleston all the way up to Mass.
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its funnyn that the troll being quoted is actually my number 1 person on my ignore list LOL

Stop feeding the troll guys and also please stop quoting him.
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158. Relix
Quoting reedzone:


Good to hear your alright, any damage in ur area?


Nothing major happened, at least in my area. Surprisingly there are 200K people without power, some minor flooding and some downed trees. Aside from that nothing. Media is hyping Fiona which will barely leave a splash even if she survives =P.
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For those wondering about the OBX and evacuations, my folks live there and apparently they started evacuations of non-residents on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands yesterday afternoon.
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Quoting apocalyps:
Earl continues to have some Floridawobbles.
Isnt that amazing?


OK then, I guess you folks in the Outer Banks can go ahead and put the generators away.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
Can you people stop quoting the trolls,please!!


Sorry bud, I was a bit confused --- thought I missed something while I was sleeping. I sometimes forget that opinions are like Butt-holes. Everyone has one and they all stink
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That's really close...

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so far it looks like a tad further on this run
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149. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #10
TROPICAL STORM NAMTHEUN (T1008)
0:00 AM JST September 1 2010
=============================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Taiwan Strait

At 15:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Namtheun (998 hPa) located at 25.0N 119.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as almost stationary

Dvorak Intensity:

Gale Force Winds
================
40 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
======================
24 HRS: 24.6N 118.2E - Tropical Depression
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Quoting TexasGulf:


A really good source for local information for Outer Banks and Virginia Beach area is this link:
Link

If you look, they give you local emergency #'s to call for information and also provide local updates and Hurricane Earl advisories.

They have already been issuing alerts for some areas of the OBX.

News says Cape Lookout National Seashore is closed, but that is the only OBX location on the news so far.
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I am starting to see some CCW motion in that big drupe of dry air sagging south towards Cuba along the FL-SC coast. Will that cutt-off into a ULL? That could be key to the future motion of Earl.
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Quoting philliesrock:
12z GFS is slower than 6z with not much of an adjustment in track through 57.


12Z GFS does seem to have moved a smudge left yet again.
Link
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Quoting apocalyps:
Earl continues to have some Floridawobbles.
Isnt that amazing?

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


A really good source for local information for Outer Banks and Virginia Beach area is this link:
Link

If you look, they give you local emergency #'s to call for information and also provide local updates and Hurricane Earl advisories.

They have already been issuing alerts for some areas of the OBX.


WAVY TV 10 rocks!
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Can you people stop quoting the trolls,please!!
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RonSC, you have WUmail
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
ok back. had to be an emt at work.

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Quoting Zeec94:


Love to here what he says as well. The station up in my area is crazy. Working on the weather blog as we speak. Let me know what he says for that region, and I will do the same for up closer to Hampton Roads.


Not him this time, but I expect he'll be on at 6pm. They save him for the extended or severe weather. :) I'll post an update tonight! :)
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and look where the max winds of 128kts are, they are at least 30 nautical miles from the centre - EWRC well under way.
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Quoting RJT185:
Question for NC/OBX residents: Where do you go to find evacuation orders or warnings? I'm supposed to go down FRI to FRI for wedding preparations, but depending on evac orders and storm path we're going to have to delay or cancel. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciatted.


A really good source for local information for Outer Banks and Virginia Beach area is this link:
Link

If you look, they give you local emergency #'s to call for information and also provide local updates and Hurricane Earl advisories.

They have already been issuing alerts for some areas of the OBX.
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12z GFS is slower than 6z with not much of an adjustment in track through 57.
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Quoting RonSC:
I don't know Floodman, but I'm an independent adjuster too. His comments on insurance are spot on.

I would add that your Homeowner's policy does not cover flood damage.


He'd already covered that...but it's one of the most common mistakes that insureds make: thinking that they're covered for everything.

My offer still stands: anyone with questions in regards to their policies or what they need to be doing to prepare for a landfall can WUMail me and I will happily answer as many questions as I can
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting Keys99:
Clues were just given.( See below) As a person who has prepared for his fare share of storms I would be making plans before 5pm today to get some supplies before the mad rush begins. Once the watches are put out it might get a little crazy.

1.Gas station for gas before the lines
2.food store for water ect...
3.hardware store lights batteries wood ect....
4.If you have to leave town Hotel Reservations now. But that could be an issues as it is a Holiday weekend.

GIVEN THE TRACK AND THE LARGE AREA OF TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS...A
HURRICANE WATCH WILL LIKELY BE REQUIRED FOR A PORTION OF THE
MID-ATLANTIC COAST LATER TODAY. INTERESTS FROM THE CAROLINAS
NORTHWARD TO NEW ENGLAND SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF EARL.
THERE IS STILL CONSIDERABLE UNCERTAINTY AS TO HOW CLOSE THE
HURRICANE WILL COME TO THE U.S. EAST COAST.


Speaking from experience, I recommend buying one of those bands that fit around your head with a light on it. I found it invaluable. In case of a prolonged power outage it really frees up your hands.
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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.