Earl maintaining Category 4 strength; hurricane watches for North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:44 PM GMT on August 31, 2010

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Hurricane watches are now posted for coastal North Carolina, as Hurricane Earl continues towards the west-northwest at 13 mph with little change in strength. Currently, the outer reaches of the storm are affecting the Turks and Caicos Islands, and NOAA's Wavewatch III model is predicting 15 - 20 foot waves are affecting these islands. Early this morning, waves at buoy 41043 offshore of Puerto Rico reached 31 feet. Winds at Providenciales in the Turks were only 20 - 25 mph this afternoon, though Cockburn Town and Balfour Town in the extreme eastern Turks may be seeing winds near tropical storm force--40 mph.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Earl.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Recent visible satellite loops show that the southwest side of Earl is getting eaten into by wind shear and dry air. The storm is no longer as symmetrical as 24 hours ago, and the spiral band on Earl's west side has been destroyed by dry air. Wind shear as diagnosed by the latest SHIPS model forecast shows a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, 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. Water vapor satellite loops show some moderately dry air to Earl's southwest, and very dry air to the northwest. Once Earl works its way farther to the northwest, it is possible that the persistent moderate wind shear will be able to drive this dry air deep enough into Earl's west side to significantly disrupt it. However, none of the models is predicting this, and Earl is probably large and strong enough to fend off this sort of assault. I give a 30% chance that a major dry air intrusion will significantly disrupt Earl between now and Thursday, weakening it to a Category 2 hurricane. 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. There is no evidence that Earl has weakened, though, based on the latest pressure of 940 mb from the Hurricane Hunters. 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.

Track forecast for Earl
The latest set of computer models runs from 8am EDT (12Z) are pretty unified in taking Earl 100 - 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina, then 150 - 300 miles off the coast of Southeast Massachusetts, then into Nova Scotia. The high degree of model unity gives confidence that this is the correct solution, but it is good to keep in mind that the average error in a 48-hour NHC forecast is about 125 miles. It is likely that Earl will bring a 15-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 15% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. By Friday evening, 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 13% chance of receiving hurricane force winds. These odds are 5% for Boston, 6% for Providence, 8% for Eastport, Maine, and 14% 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.

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.

Next update
Dr. Rob Carver is planning an update late tonight, and I'll have a full update in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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1121. JLPR2
I'm finally back!
26hrs without power! T_T
I don't want to image what would have happened if Earl would have passed 50 miles closer to PR.

Well, anyways, I see Fiona is hanging on and that we have 98L, ah! I feel so far behind. XD
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No, Fiona will likely degenerate into a surface trough in a couple of days as shear continues to increase into an increasingly unfavorable threshold. By the time that happens, she should already be far from the Caribbean.


it's 98 that will be more of player for the Carib right?
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Looks like Fiona is right next to Earl. How will this affect both storms?
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1116. palmpt
Quoting tropicfreak:
Turks and caicos got spared, thank goodness there isn't a lot of convection in that area.


My favorite place to dive!
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Quoting reedzone:
Remember people, if Earl speeds up, greater chance for landfall in the Northeast form Long Island northward.,


Its already got landfall tracks all over the area.. it doesn't have to do anything

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What is the difference between the new model run that is coming out at 11:30PM for the GFS and the GFS spaghetti plot that came out at 8?
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
I was wondering whether anyone was thinking that Fiona could leave a piece of energy behind to sneak past/under Earl and hit what looks to be a real sweet spot in the central Carib?
No, Fiona will likely degenerate into a surface trough in a couple of days as shear continues to increase into an increasingly unfavorable threshold. By the time that happens, she should already be far from the Caribbean.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Getting sheared by Earl's outflow. Some recent convective bursts have developed mainly to the south of the circulation so it isn't out of the question that the circulation relocates further south.


thats kinda what i see happening though i dont think its going to relocate to far south though imo
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thank you alfabob. i love those runs.

btw, to everyone, the noaa site is not working for me right now. anyone else?? i feel "in the dark" without it
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Remember people, if Earl speeds up, greater chance for landfall in the Northeast form Long Island northward.,
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
That image greatly exaggerates that amount of SAL that is actually present. Here is the real graph, although there is a thick layer of dry air to the north of the system, it isn't as strong as indicated by the CIMSS PREDICT page.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Hmmm blog hole... or wrong button??
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One of the local weather guys here in Tampa---the only one who gives his own take as well as NHC's--said he thinks Earl's path could be similar to Hurricane Gloria. Anybody here think so?



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1103. srada
970. tropicfreak

two things wrong with this forecast..he encourages people to go to the beach and enjoy the water after a potential Category 4 storm affects the area but wants them to be mindful of ripcurrents, and two I just want to clarify that Wilmington is known only as Wilmington..there is no such city, town in eastern NC known as "Cape Fear"..even the NHC has it Cape Fear..we do have a cape fear river but that is not the name of our town..
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1102. Ryuujin
Quoting RecordSeason:
Yeah well...

Earl is taking a beating right now.

That wedge of dry air has wrapped around to 90 degrees already, and at 180 degrees it bisected the CDO literally from the surface all the way through the cloud tops.

He can't survive more than a few hours like that without losing entire categories worth of intensity, so if the blue and black don't fill back in with some reds and oranges soon, we can be pretty darn sure of a downgrade on next advisory.


Stop spouting nonsense. What are you even looking at?
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1101. Walnut
Quoting Ryuujin:


Which is what I personally believe will happen. I think that the ULL over Alabama is too strong at the moment and is keeping the lower part of the trof at bay. I know in Indiana we're not supposed to see any kind of movement on our weather front until overnight Thursday and Friday morning which is too far away and way too late to affect Earl


Have to agree at this point. Just not sure the trof will get there before Earl hits the OBX. It may be enough to keep it from crossing the Pamlico Sound but a landfall or a continual sweep right up the coast is still very possible. Then it's a matter of which way the winds are blowing the water.
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What does everyone think models will do at 11?
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:


Looking formidable. Earl may scoot the closing weakness - let's hope so, because that CONUS high pressure is looking fairly sound.

LINK


sweet link, thanks!
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


dry air!
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Quoting FLdewey:
Great.

Now I've got "My Fiona" in my head.

Ma Ma Ma Myyyy Fiona.

Dag Namit.


Oh noooooooo... stoooop...
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Turks and caicos got spared, thank goodness there isn't a lot of convection in that area.
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I thought Anagada-da-vida got the south eyewall only. So not (actual) landfall ??
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Indeed it is! Infrared shows it nicely too.



Looks a little lopsided, especially on the Southwestern end
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1090. Ryuujin
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Indeed it is! Infrared shows it nicely too.



Wooboy. Didn't someone say that if he didn't start a N turn by 70 than the EC would be in for some serious issues?
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1088. 900MB
Quoting reedzone:
It's a 50/50 shot that it hits or misses the CONUS. The track is just too close for comfort, especially when some of the latest models now put the Northeast in for some landfalls. Just because it moved NW, doesn't mean a quick recurvature, it's all about timing. Earl could very well beat the trough and head up the coastline, recurving after it's too late. This is why people need to prepare for the worst of Earl from North Carolina, northward.


I'm with you Reed. Not buying that front that everyone is counting on.
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Cape cods going to get the strongest wx imo,could be a perfect storm like scenario setting up this weekend!!!!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Getting sheared by Earl's outflow. Some recent convective bursts have developed mainly to the south of the circulation so it isn't out of the question that the circulation relocates further south.
I asked about this in post 993. Care to elaborate further Miami?
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Quoting Ryuujin:


Is that him getting ready to cross 70?

Indeed it is! Infrared shows it nicely too.

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Quoting FLdewey:
StSimonsIslandGAGuy is the real handle
StSimonIslandGAGuy is the fake

Fake has already been banned.


Oh, good call. Didn't see it.
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1081. Ryuujin
Quoting reedzone:
It's a 50/50 shot that it hits or misses the CONUS. The track is just too close for comfort, especially when some of the latest models now put the Northeast in for some landfalls. Just because it moved NW, doesn't mean a quick recurvature, it's all about timing. Earl could very well beat the trough and head up the coastline, recurving after it's too late. This is why people need to prepare for the worst of Earl from North Carolina, northward.


Which is what I personally believe will happen. I think that the ULL over Alabama is too strong at the moment and is keeping the lower part of the trof at bay. I know in Indiana we're not supposed to see any kind of movement on our weather front until overnight Thursday and Friday morning which is too far away and way too late to affect Earl
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Is that PC to mention potato chips to fatlady? ;)


Sort of like mentioning 'first cousins' to someone from Pensicola...

SNAP! Oh no you didn't!!

just kidding Pcola.

But seriously, you may want to rethink the fat jokes. They are somewhere around the level of ethnic humor. They say more about the person who makes them than the victim.

Besides,... see the dog in the photo? That's Fatlady. She's a flat coated retriever. She LOVES potato chips! LOL!!!
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
1078. bassis
Quoting Ryuujin:


Is that him getting ready to cross 70?


looks like he's close
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Now models are more spread out.


I see that, the GFS lands in my backyard though on the new models.
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Quoting SkinnyKnockdown:
All the westcasters are looking at the maps with west-colored glasses. NHC has been dead-on with the track forecast for the past 24 hours. This thing is going to miss the CONUS.

So we should overlook the last 7 days they were wrong right. Storms are hard to predict but let's not act as if they nailed this thing from the start.
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1073. centex
Fiona only hope is to stay west and weather Earl sheer until late this week.
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1072. ussual
My apologies
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1071. ussual
My apologies
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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.