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 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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"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."

holy crap....
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First time GFS has been west of 75W uh oh... another shift left at 5! yippie... :(
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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...
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Quoting beell:
Just for the sake of nice, round numbers, call the first frame 20N 66.5W

Second frame, 21N 67.5W
7 hrs, 316°

06:15 UTC

Photobucket

13:15 UTC

Photobucket


Last three center fixes from HH cover a 3 1/2 hour period. Fix 1 to Fix 2 was 308 degrees. Fix 2 to Fix 3 was 299 degrees. Fix 1 to Fix 3 was 303 degrees.

Give or take wobble, call it 300 degrees.
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Quoting Relix:
If Fiona doesn't follow Earl exactly (seeing his still WNW movement) can she go south of her forecast and still survive the outflow and the expected shear? Not saying it will go into the Carib but my gut tells me it could land in the NE caribbean at some point,


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


Enough said.... Thanks Storm
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Quoting ochreluna13:
Checking in from Raleigh, NC here. I'm waiting for the 12 noon news to hear what Greg Fishel has to say, my favorite local weather guy and somewhat of a local legend. In my experience of many hurricanes in NC, he's usually pretty right about what will happen. www.wral.com

I haven't posted here for a long time, but I'm enjoying following the conversation! Thanks to you all!


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.
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124. 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.
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123. 7544
could earl wobble to the west as much as he did yesterday today
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Depends on the cats.


Now THAT'S FUNNY!
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Quoting StormsAreCool:


Have been all along.




Yes


Somebody with some sense, tell me what I've missed over the last 12 hours?
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119. Relix
If Fiona doesn't follow Earl exactly (seeing his still WNW movement) can she go south of her forecast and still survive the outflow and the expected shear? Not saying it will go into the Carib but my gut tells me it could land in the NE caribbean at some point,
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118. CJ5
Quoting apocalyps:
Now that it is almost sure Earl will hit florida we should start thinking about Earl making it into the GOM.


Your posts are now becoming irresponsible. Give it a rest.
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Quoting funeeeg:
Post 27 and 35. Levi, I think what you are seeing is an eyewall replacement cycle. You often see a dry mout around the old eyewall before the EWRC is complete. Remeber Wilma as a good expample of this. The shear is out of the southwest so it is not advecting the dry air to the storms NW into the core. I just don't see any evidence of dry air in the core of the stom, if their was it would be on a much faster weakening trend and not holding a reasonably steady intensity. You can see arc clouds forming on the western side of the storm where some dry air has mixed in with some thunderstorms there. I am sure the Doc and the NHC would have mentioned it if the core of the storm had entrained dry air. JMO of course you may well be right.


You may very well be right, but the very distinct outflow boundaries aren't typical of an EWRC...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Checking in from Raleigh, NC here. I'm waiting for the 12 noon news to hear what Greg Fishel has to say, my favorite local weather guy and somewhat of a local legend. In my experience of many hurricanes in NC, he's usually pretty right about what will happen. www.wral.com

I haven't posted here for a long time, but I'm enjoying following the conversation! Thanks to you all!
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interesting that the pressure has risen slightly indicating weakening but the flight level winds are actually increasing in the eyewall - 128 Knots, this still justifies 115 Knots surface winds. Seems that the winds in the new eyewall are catching up.
Member Since: October 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 218
Cantore is in Cape Cod, and Jeff Morrow in OBX. Looks like OBX can worry now. Haha

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Quoting oracle28:


Ahh now, don't be offended. My guess is no better than yours, it's just the margin-of-error in your maps is so large that is amusing.


Well as much models had a good consensus, the pattern seemed a bit different, it's all about possibilities. Earl can make a sharp turn to the right or a landfall westward.
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Quoting apocalyps:
Now that it is almost sure Earl will hit florida we should start thinking about Earl making it into the GOM.


Have been all along.


Quoting 7544:
does anyone think that earl will wobble more west today


Yes
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


That is quite a bit different than brushing 4 cats!
Depends on the cats.
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Time to think about getting ready to go to work... have fun



AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Quoting 2COOL:
Can anyone tell me what kind of storm surge might be expected...or how this could affect Maryland? Many thanks!!


I was just going to post this
Link

This helped a lot with understanding the surge for us in the lower chesapeake during the November Nor'easter last year. It has already changed to a little higher than what it was showing this morning for thursday/friday in Hampton roads, so I check it pretty often when surge is a concern. It's just another tool to have in your toolbox though.

Hampton Roads:


Ocean City:
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Quoting StormsAreCool:
It's amazing how flawed the models have been, and still so many are putting their faith in them. Earl's gonna go much further west, people.
I think it is more of a delay tactic as they don't want to panic everyone on the Atlantic coast. Maybe they are waiting for something to really change before they throw all the models out.

Question - has it started to REALLY make that NW/N turn yet? They all said by this morning, but I don't see it.
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Quoting reedzone:
I think i'm gonna have to add some more people on my ignore list, I don't really like to do that..


Ahh now, don't be offended. My guess is no better than yours, it's just the margin-of-error in your maps is so large that it is amusing.
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Storm, Levi mentioned earlier that he felt like Earl had peaked. Your thoughts?
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102. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #22
TYPHOON KOMPASU (T1007)
0:00 AM JST September 1 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In East China Sea

At 15:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Kompasu (965 hPa) located at 28.0N 126.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 16 knots

Dvorak Intensity:

Storm Force Winds
==================
50 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
40 NM from the center in western quadrant

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
90 NM from the center in western quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 34.4N 123.7E - 70 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
45 HRS: 38.7N 125.8E - 45 knots (CAT1/Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 42.4N 133.8E - EXTRATROPICAL
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99. 7544
does anyone think that earl will wobble more west today
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Weakened:

Out for now.


000
URNT12 KNHC 311535
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL072010
A. 31/15:22:10Z
B. 21 deg 09 min N
067 deg 59 min W
C. 700 mb 2591 m
D. 80 kt
E. 121 deg 23 nm
F. 201 deg 104 kt
G. 121 deg 35 nm
H. 941 mb
I. 12 C / 3051 m
J. 21 C / 3028 m
K. 19 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA

N. 12345 / 7
O. 0.02 / 0.5 nm
P. AF309 0607A EARL OB 20
MAX OUTBOUND AND MAX FL WIND 128 KT NE QUAD 15:31:10Z
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Gotta run now, later all.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


GFS seems to be right on so far...
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Oops, I've fixed the erroneous image.


I got a kick out of it...
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Quoting StormSurgeon:


Cape Cod China? Heh Heh....


I was hoping I wasn't the only one seeing this. Haha
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Quoting funeeeg:
Post 27 and 35. Levi, I think what you are seeing is an eyewall replacement cycle. You often see a dry mout around the old eyewall before the EWRC is complete. Remeber Wilma as a good expample of this. The shear is out of the southwest so it is not advecting the dry air to the storms NW into the core. I just don't see any evidence of dry air in the core of the stom, if their was it would be on a much faster weakening trend and not holding a reasonably steady intensity. You can see arc clouds forming on the western side of the storm where some dry air has mixed in with some thunderstorms there. I am sure the Doc and the NHC would have mentioned it if the core of the storm had entrained dry air. JMO of course you may well be right.


I think it's both, since there is obviously an EWRC in progress as well. There is some dry air to the west and southwest that could get punched in that side...and you can see the flattened appearance of the upper clouds there due to some resistance from the upper winds. We shall see though.

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heh StormW typing in leet. what is going on in the world.
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Quoting angiest:


Looks to be bent slightly, and I do mean slightly, further left from vort 2 to three as opposed to vort 1 to 2.


Always use at least three... two does not give a good representation of the data.

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Quoting StormW:
Hey Levi and ho77ywOOd


Hey Storm!
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Quoting StormSurgeon:


Cape Cod China? Heh Heh....


Oops, I've fixed the erroneous image.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
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
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
INTERESTS FROM THE CAROLINAS NORTHWARD TO NEW ENGLAND SHOULD MONITOR
THE PROGRESS OF EARL. A HURRICANE WATCH COULD BE REQUIRED FOR
PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST LATER TODAY.
OBX Plan for the Week:
Today: Stay calm. Follow the preparations on Patrap's blog and additional suggestions posted on this one - get 100% ready. If you know how far you can drive in a day, make hotel reservations or find friends/family that can put up with you for a few days.
Wed: Stay calm. Help out your neighbors, because they will wait.
Thurs 2-4am: Stay calm. If still coming your way, pack the bambinos in the station wagon and head inland.
Thurs 8-10am: Stay calm. Stop at a greasy spoon for food and gas. Charge the ipods.
Thurs 10am-2pm: Stay calm. Stop for lunch and find a city park for the kids to play. Charge the ipods.
Thurs 2pm-6pm: Stay calm. Find a hotel early in the day - take the kids to the pool. Find the liquor store. Charge the ipods.
Thurs night relax and watch.
Friday: Now you can worry about what's next.
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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.