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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1071. ussual
My apologies
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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.
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Quoting leo305:
98L is looking much better, considering very little models develop it..

Fiona is looking good too
so are the thunderstorms inthe midwest
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1067. Ryuujin
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Didn't The Knack sing "My Fiona"?

My Sharona
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Quoting scott39:
What does Fiona look like she doing to you right now on the Sat loop?
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.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Didn't The Knack sing "My Fiona"?

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10968
Looks like Fiona will do like Erika of last year lol
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Quoting IHHEOTBS:


Has the eye of the hurricane hit land yet? Nope oh snap.
So is it only the eye that can do damage or take lives ? I know for sure you have never been through a major hurricane or you would not say such obviously stupid things.
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1060. scCane
It's hard to tell where the center of Fiona is. It may just be me but it's starting to look like a trof now that it's being affected by Earl.
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1059. Ryuujin
Quoting 1900hurricane:
ERC seems to be just about complete:



Is that him getting ready to cross 70?
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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.
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Quoting reedzone:
Earl still has a 50/50 shot at making landfall in the USA, sorry waverunner, you lose :P

NOGAPS shows a track similar to Hurricane Bob in 1991.
There you are...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting caneswatch:
Please pardon the posts by StSimonsIslandGAGuy. He has informed me that he has been hacked by an anonymous person, and I am NOT making this up.


I thought that looked fishy....He seems to be a legit blogger...
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Quoting FLdewey:

It's like a potato chip... can't do it just once.


That's not nice to mention potato chips to fatlady? ;)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting itrackstorms:


Now models are more spread out.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


and yet its only 20% lol


LOL
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1051. scott39
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Still has to improve the overall low level structure and circulation, but it's well on its way. I assume that the reason the NHC has decided to give it such a low percentage is:

1. Lack of model support.
2. Rather dry mid-level environment.
3. Marginal upper level conditions.

Nonetheless, I still am giving it a 30-40% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.
What does Fiona look like she doing to you right now on the Sat loop?
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ERC seems to be just about complete:

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Quoting KanKunKid:


The ! button is also a useful tool in making sure others don't have to read the garbage. I think that persons posts are getting record "gang clicks" on the ! button. Feel free to join in until the offending poster is banned.


Will do. Can I jump up and down on it?
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Quoting FLdewey:

It's like a potato chip... can't do it just once.


hehehe
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Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 152
Quoting ussual:



I am surprised they have yet to ban this idiot from the blog. I hate people like this with the brains of a roach.


If people didn't quote them, the posts could just disappear and never be read again. The post was removed, now it's back. :(
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1043. Greyelf
Quoting tropicfreak:


when there is a Cat 3 hurricane looming in the atlantic

What happened to the cat 5 bearing down on FL? Apparently I'm still not finding it.
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Please pardon the posts by StSimonsIslandGAGuy. He has informed me that he has been hacked by an anonymous person, and I am NOT making this up.
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Quoting ussual:



I am surprised they have yet to ban this idiot from the blog. I hate people like this with the brains of a roach.


I wish you hadn't quoted him, tho.
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1040. Ryuujin
Quoting RecordSeason:
1009:

Earl's in for a fight right now. He REALLY needs DMAX to save him, because he just lost his tallest clouds in the CDO, and I'm pretty sure a small wedge of dry air got into the south side of the CDO in the past 30 minutes or so.

Still, the western outflow is improving, but if Earl doesn't cut off that dry wedge immediately he is going to be in serious trouble.

This comes just as the Eye was actually re-emerging too...


Huh? What loop are you watching? A.) Earl is still a CAT 4. B.) I see no ingest of dry air. and C.) He's been eating dry air for 4+ hours and laughed in it's face. I don't think this is going to suddenly ruin him.
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1039. leo305
98L is looking much better, considering very little models develop it..

Fiona is looking good too
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1038. mnborn
I predict Fiona will blow up Earl to save the day! lol...
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Quoting jason2010xxxx:
hurricane earl hit the islands so its not a fish storm.l
He's got a point. Didn't Earl make some kind of official landfall in Anagada in the British VI?
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Looking formidable. Earl may scoot the closing weakness - let's hope so, because that CONUS high pressure is looking fairly sound.

LINK
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Quoting jason2010xxxx:
its not a fish storm are you retarded..
Jason, be nice now. Don't say things like that but it is obvious he doesn't think people live on the islands in the Caribbean or they just are not as important as other people in other countries are.
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Quoting Relix:


Yes like if all that matters is a COC. No it isn't. Tell that to some islanders folk and lets see how long your face stays like that fool.

Yeah it seems she's trying to survive. Forecast may change or she may be downgraded/
Woah dude you just like totally like went on a verge their.La poof.just mess'in with ya.lol
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Earl still has a 50/50 shot at making landfall in the USA, sorry waverunner, you lose :P

NOGAPS shows a track similar to Hurricane Bob in 1991.
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Quoting extreme236:
98L is getting closer to TD status if these trends continue.
Still has to improve the overall low level structure and circulation, but it's well on its way. I assume that the reason the NHC has decided to give it such a low percentage is:

1. Lack of model support.
2. Rather dry mid-level environment.
3. Marginal upper level conditions.

Nonetheless, I still am giving it a 30-40% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Recon just left Biloxi
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


and yet its only 20% lol


Should be much higher by tomorrow.
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Quoting JupiterFL:


As a youngin, didn't you learn to respect your elders?


Yes but when it gets annoying, and when folks aren't just staying on topic, it really peeves me when people joke around when there is a Cat 3 hurricane looming in the atlantic that will affect the east coast, there comes to a point where i just have to report them.
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Quoting StSimonIslandGAGuy:


I've never actually used the Ignore button before. Thanks for a new experience!
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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.