Category 4 Earl headed for a close brush with North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:16 PM GMT on August 31, 2010

Share this Blog
5
+

Powerful Category 4 Hurricane Earl is pulling away from Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and is eyeing its next potential landfall--North Carolina's Outer Banks. Earl brought heavy rain and high winds to Puerto Rico and much of the northern Lesser Antilles yesterday, though it appears that the islands were spared major damage. One exception may be Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, population 200. The eye of Earl passed just north of Anegada at noon yesterday, and Earl's south eyewall probably brought sustained winds of 100 mph to the island. Second hardest hit was probably Anguilla. Amateur weather observer Steve Donahue at anguilla-weather.com estimated gusts of 100 mph on Anguilla; his anemometer broke at 88 mph. Winds in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands remained above tropical storm force (39 mph) for five hours yesterday afternoon, peaking at 52 mph, gusting to 62 mph, at 4:49 pm. Heavy rains hit Puerto Rico, where radar-estimated rainfall amounts of up to 5 - 7" occurred. Earl brought waves of sixteen feet to San Juan, and waves at buoy 41043 offshore of Puerto Rico reached 31 feet early this morning.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Earl, taken at 10:30am EDT 8/31/10. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Radar estimated rainfall for Earl from the San Juan, Puerto Rico radar. Isolated regions of 5 - 7 " of rain occurred in three locations on Puerto Rico. The rays fanning out to east from the radar location marked with a "+" are due to mountains blocking the view of the radar.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Wind shear as diagnosed by the latest SHIPS model forecast shows a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear over Earl, due to upper level winds out of the southwest from a trough of low pressure to Earl's west. This moderate shear is predicted to continue through Friday, but should not appreciably affect Earl, since the hurricane is so large and strong. Ocean temperatures are a near-record 29.5 - 30°C, and very warm waters extend to great depth, resulting in a total ocean heat content favorable for intensification. Earl is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, which may diminish its winds by 10 -20 mph for a day or so. However, the storm will probably regain strength after completing this cycle, and it is likely Earl will be a major Category 3 or 4 hurricane at its closest approach to North Carolina Thursday night and Friday morning. By Friday night, when Earl will be making its closest approach to New England, wind shear will rise to a high 20 - 30 knots and ocean temperatures will plunge to 20°C, resulting in considerable weakening. Earl will still probably be a Category 2 hurricane on Friday night, when it could potentially make landfall in Massachusetts. Earl is more likely to be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday morning, when it could potentially make landfall in Maine or Nova Scotia, Canada.


Figure 3. Swath of surface winds from Earl predicted by the 2am EDT Tuesday, August 31, 2010 runs of NOAA's GFDL model (left) and HWRF model (right). Hurricane force winds (yellow colors, above 64 knots) are predicted to stay off the coast. Tropical storm force winds (light green colors, above 34 knots) are predicted to affect coastal North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Eastern Maine. Winds between 58 mph - 73 mph (dark green colors) are predicted to small portions of the coast. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/GFDL.

Track forecast for Earl
The latest set of computer models runs from 2am EDT (6Z) this morning push Earl's projected track a little closer to the U.S. East Coast, and we now have two of our six reliable models predicting a U.S. landfall. The latest NOGAPS run shows Earl hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina late Thursday night, then striking Southeast Massachusetts late Friday night, and Eastern Maine on Saturday morning. The HWRF model predicts a strike on Eastern Maine Saturday morning, but keeps Earl offshore from North Carolina and Massachusetts. None of the other computer models show Earl hitting the U.S., but several models bring Earl within 100 - 200 miles of North Carolina's Outer Banks and Southeast Massachusetts. It is likely that Earl will being a 12-hour period of heavy rain and tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph to North Carolina's Outer Banks, beginning on Thursday evening. NHC is giving Cape Hatteras a 12% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. By Friday evening, western Long Island, Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts can expect a 6 - 8 hour period of heavy rain and tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph. NHC is giving Nantucket a 11% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. These odds are 4% for Boston, 6% for Providence, 5% for Eastport, Maine, and 11% for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The main determinant of whether Earl hits the U.S. or not is a strong trough of low pressure predicted to move off the U.S. East Coast Friday. This trough, if it develops as predicted, should be strong enough to recurve Earl out to sea. Keep in mind that the average error in position for a 3-day NHC forecast is 185 miles, which is about how far offshore Earl is predicted to be from Cape Hatteras three days from now. The average error in a 4-day forecast is 255 miles, which is about the distance Earl is expected to be from the coast of New England four days from now.

Regardless of Earl's exact track, the U.S. East Coast can expect a long period of high waves beginning on Thursday. Significant beach erosion and dangerous rip currents will be the rule, due to waves that will reach 10 - 15 feet in offshore waters. Waves from Hurricane Danielle killed two swimmers in the U.S. over the weekend and forced hundreds of water rescues along the U.S. East Coast. Earl's waves will be worse, and will likely cause millions of dollars in beach erosion damage.

Fiona
Tropical Storm Fiona is speeding west-northwest towards Hurricane Earl, but is unlikely to bring tropical storm force winds to the Lesser Antilles. Satellite loops show that heavy thunderstorm activity has increased in some of the outer bands this morning, but remains limited near the center. Wind shear is currently moderate, 10 - 15 knots, and the main impediment to development continues to be dry air associated with the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) surrounding the storm.

Forecast for Fiona
Fiona is moving quickly to the west-northwest, at about 24 mph. This means it is catching up to Earl, which is moving at 15 mph. By tonight, Fiona will be beneath Earl's upper-level outflow channel. Strong upper-level winds from Earl's upper-level outflow and a ridge of high pressure to the northwest of Fiona will bring high levels of wind shear, 20 - 30 knots, to Fiona tonight through Friday, and probably arrest the storm's development. The scenario now called for by all the models is for Fiona to be drawn into the low pressure wake of Earl and turn to the northwest. Fiona will pass to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and will probably not bring tropical storm force winds to the islands. Fiona should then continue to the northwest and then turn north, passing very close to Bermuda on Saturday morning. It is possible Earl could destroy Fiona through high wind shear before Saturday.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Fiona. High level cirrus clouds flowing out from the center of Earl as part of its upper level outflow can be seen starting to impinge upon the western side of Fiona's circulation.

Danielle is dead
Tropical Storm Danielle has succumbed to the cold North Atlantic waters, and is no longer a tropical storm.

98L
A new tropical wave (Invest 98L) moved off the coast of Africa yesterday, and is centered a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands. Strong easterly winds from the African Monsoon are creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of shear, and the disturbance is currently disorganized. A large area of dry air lies to the north and west of 98L, and this will interfere with development. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts shear will remain moderate, 10 - 20 knots, for the next five days, and some slow development of 98L is possible as it moves westward at 15 mph. NHC is giving a 10% chance of this system developing into a tropical depression by Thursday, and none of the computer models develop it.


Figure 5. Morning satellite image of 98L.

A rare triple threat in the Western Pacific
Over in the Western Pacific, we have an unusual triple feature--three named storms all within 700 miles of each other. A 3-way interaction between these storms is occurring, making for a very tough forecast situation. The storm of most concern is Typhoon Kompasu, which hit Okinawa today as a Category 2 typhoon. Kompasu is expected to recurve northeastward and hit North Korea on Thursday as a Category 2 typhoon. It is unusual for a powerful typhoon to thread the tight Yellow Sea and hit North Korea, and I don't know how prepared they are for strong typhoons. Kompasu is expected to hit the most populous region of North Korea, but the country is pretty mountainous, and a significant storm surge disaster is probably unlikely. In the South China Sea, Tropical Storm Lionrock and Tropical Storm Namtheun are moving through the straights between Taiwan and China towards each other. Neither are predicted to develop into typhoons, but heavy rains are occurring in Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, further exacerbating the flood conditions China has suffered this summer.


Figure 6. An unusual triple feature over the Western Pacific--three simultaneous named storms all within 700 miles of each other. Image credit: NOAA/SSD.

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question to broadcast@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line.

Today's show will be about 45 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

I may have a short update this afternoon, once the latest models runs are available.
Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1283 - 1233

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33Blog Index

1283. markot
Quoting tropicfreak:


Thats not good. Who said it, was it a regular or a hurricane expert like knabb or norcross?
regular
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 226
Based on the current visuals, Earl has made his turn poleward!!! He will send some high tides and stormy weather into the U. S. East coast but that should be it. However, areas north of Maine need to watch out.

--------------------
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1280. jscs
Quoting SeVaSurfer:


Love Duck, we have a place in Corolla NC,,,,I would definately get the kids out of there!


If this storm stays 150 miles off the Outer Banks, they will have a great story of wind and waves to take home with them. Tell them to pay attention, and have fun if it stays that far off the coast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EastCarolina:


Ocracoke will start having mandatory evacuations tomorrow at 5:00 am. An evacuation may be called for duck but it probably wont occur untill later tomorrow.


Hello, fellow C-USA member! Southern Miss fan here...Wish us luck this week. We don't play too far from you on Thursday against the Gamecocks and the whiny ball coach himself: Spurrier! Stay safe this coming week if Earl comes calling.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1277. FLSWEDE
You can see on the IR The Earl is turning to the NW or may NNW the storm hit a wall becoming egg shape north to south..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CJ5:


That shows a clear W direction at the end.


MIMIC-TPW isn't a very good indicator of motion since the image has to be manually adjusted to keep the storm centered. It's proving to be hard determining Earl's motion without radar.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting DestinJeff:
Shift happens sometimes.


Yeah,especially at Hog's breath or A.J.'s..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CJ5:


That shows a clear W direction at the end.
Not seeing it. Weebles wobble and so on.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1272. will40
Quoting SeVaSurfer:


Love Duck, we have a place in Corolla NC,,,,I would definately get the kids out of there!


yep Duck aint the place to be even if he is predicted to be 150 miles off shore
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4266
Quoting TampaTom:


I'd definitely remind her to check the local media... they should be able to let her know when it's time to move...


Ocracoke will start having mandatory evacuations tomorrow at 5:00 am. An evacuation may be called for duck but it probably wont occur untill later tomorrow.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kasey219:
Question for Dr. Masters -

My daughter is spending this week in an oceanfront house in Duck, NC with family friends. Should they evacuate?

Thanks, Kasey
I'm certainly not the Dr., kasey... I'd just have her watch the news and if they say evacuate, then do it. Otherwise, she'll likely be fine. NC has traditionally been pretty good about coastal evacuations.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I hope the DHS is planning on enhancing the trough because
otherwise this is gonna be close folks!


Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
Quoting markot:
they just said on weather channel big shift to west, where is that...


Thats not good. Who said it, was it a regular or a hurricane expert like knabb or norcross?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1267. CJ5
Quoting TerraNova:


Yup, according to the Doctor. Earl should be coming out of it soon as the outer eyewall is already beginning to supersede the inner one. Here's a good animation showing the outer and inner eyewalls from last night through today.



That shows a clear W direction at the end.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kasey219:
Question for Dr. Masters -

My daughter is spending this week in an oceanfront house in Duck, NC with family friends. Should they evacuate?

Thanks, Kasey


Love Duck, we have a place in Corolla NC,,,,I would definately get the kids out of there!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kasey219:
Question for Dr. Masters -

My daughter is spending this week in an oceanfront house in Duck, NC with family friends. Should they evacuate?

Thanks, Kasey


I'd definitely remind her to check the local media... they should be able to let her know when it's time to move...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1263. srada
Dr. Masters

They said this morning on the news that the cold front that is supposed to be pushing Earl out to sea has slowed down..what is the current situation of that trough?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Something tells me we'll see a hurricane watch issued from Cape Lookout, NC to Paramore Island, VA at 5 PM.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
shouldnt fiona slow down soon as earl did?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting myway:


The answer from Boca Raton is highly unlikely.
Concur, Earl would have to stop nearly in his tracks and wait for a ride west. Since there seems to be strong enough steering in place, almost no chance whatsoever.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting moonlightcowboy:


Waters offshore New Jersey are the hottest on record, I think.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Question for Dr. Masters -

My daughter is spending this week in an oceanfront house in Duck, NC with family friends. Should they evacuate?

Thanks, Kasey
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting eyesontheweather:
Dr. Masters. Any ides of the predicted tidal surge that Earl could bring along the coast and if there are any regions of concern. thank you


Here's a great resource - Just pick out your basin of concern:

http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/surge_images.asp
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think the models are missing something with 98L. It has good structure and could develop more quickly than Fiona did. The 850mb vorticity isn't that strong but it has increased over the past 3 hours. Mid level vorticity is adequate and if it can make it down to the surface, I see no reason why 98L wouldn't develop. Shear is forecast to increase in a few days, but that's a little iffy to me because I really see nothing that would shear it too much. I think this is one of those systems that models just miss out on sometimes.

850mb Vorticity:



500mb Vorticity:



98L VIS:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Would like to post a reminder to east coasters - from my own experience being in hurricanes. Please remember to check on your elderly family members and neighbors. A lot of elderly people refuse to evacuate when told to for various reasons. I know this from experience because my 86 year old Mom refuses to evacuate for any storm on the Gulf Coast. If possible check on them before and after the storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1253. hydrus
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Look at all that warm water...And it goes right up to Long Island...I cannot say I have ever seen that before..And I have been here a while.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Must be a heavy pressure gradient wind has been above normal all day in ne Dade. Just getting heavy rain with some 20 to30mph winds. Almost as good as Bonnie.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1251. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
x
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
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


You won't find anything like that on Cape Cod.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dr. Masters just said he thinks Earl will stay offshore from NC by about 150 miles. Even the cone of error at 48 hours keeps it off the outer banks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting angiest:


Already?


Yup, according to the Doctor. Earl should be coming out of it soon as the outer eyewall is already beginning to supersede the inner one. Here's a good animation showing the outer and inner eyewalls from last night through today.

Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting angiest:


At 2PM there was no adjustment to the forecast track. That will not be updated for another hour.

That's what I am saying-NO NEWS THERe
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dr. Masters. Any ides of the predicted tidal surge that Earl could bring along the coast and if there are any regions of concern. thank you
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1244. TheMom
Quoting PalmBeachWeatherBoy:
Earl has a better chance of hitting new york than florida so please, trolls be gone
that was what I saw yesterday that there was New York possibility. We have been havign some pretty decent fronts on us the past week and thought we were pretty protected at least for the first few of this train.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1242. Thaale
Early 18Z NAM for 24 hours showing Earl a tad SW of the 12Z run, and a much weaker Fiona being sheared apart.

12Z 30 hours:


Now 18Z 24 hours:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting shauntanner:
Listen to Dr. Masters on the Hurricane Haven now! Listen here!
http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.html

Questions for Dr. Masters can be asked here and heard on the air by going to the link above.


Now there's something worth listening to.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KanKunKid:


You're probably being facetious, but peeing your pants? I mean, I haven't done that since I was 3. Of course we all pee to bed occasionally. That hasn't happened to me in weeks and it was from across the room so I didn't really count it.
But you may consider "Depends" an adult diaper. Then, you can look at all the graphic displays of DOOM! and mayhem and bow echos on radar over your house, and only you will know that warm feeling from full protection. (but seriously, go change it right away, it is rude to wear a soiled "depends" in mixed company for more than a few minutes. No your friends won't tell you because they are afraid to hurt you feelings, but I will. It's for your own good. Nobody wants to be called "Stinky" or "Diaperboy" behind their back). Adult diaper rash is no laughing matter either. Make sure you have industrial strength trash bags to throw them into and have a good supply for hurricane season, it looks like you're gonna need 'em.

only if i didnt know weather and hadnt seen the models and owned ocean front property along the Florida east coast. [laughs] then maybe.

Member Since: July 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 524
1238. srada
Why is Dr. Masters going off 8:00 am model runs?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1237. bird72
Quoting yonzabam:


You're out of line with that last comment, mister. No one on here posted anything hateful.


Sorry "mister" but I'm not talking with you. My post was directed to Storm W.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1236. markot
they just said on weather channel big shift to west, where is that...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 226
Question for the Radio:

If weak steering is in place and another storm approaches (Earl&Fiona) is it possible that the FUJI. effect trumps all steering? Basically, how strong is this effect as compared to prevailing steering currents?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Is Karen back again?
Storm, what are the chances of TS fiona coming over PR and St.Croix
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1233. jscs
Quoting TallyMike:
The so - called "shift to the west" on the Weather channel just aired and it was based on the 2pm advisory-no news there.......


Not true, actually. TWC said, about 20 minutes ago, there will be a 'possibly significant' shift to the west on the 5pmEST update. I only confirm this because they should be held accountable if incorrect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1283 - 1233

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron