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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Fiona doesn't look like it wants to follow the NHC's path.
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Quoting Zeec94:


Thats what I have been saying. More models are leaning towards a landfall. I have seen 2 tonight, and 3 within 100 miles off the coast. 1 being less than 50.


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Quoting tropicfreak:


Yup. one of our local stations, WTVR CBS 6 in richmond is calling for the hurricane to make landfall in NC and have Hampton roads receive hurricane force winds cat 1 strength, Richmond though looks to be receiving, ehh.. gusts up to 30 or 40 mph, 25mph sustained, with some rain, some folks along VA down the outer banks could see anywhere from 5 to 10" of rain!!


Thats what I have been saying. More models are leaning towards a landfall. I have seen 2 tonight, and 3 within 100 miles off the coast. 1 being less than 50.
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967. 900MB
Getting no Sats/Loops from NHC, so please feel free to post latests images of Earl and descriptions of motion, eye, etc...Flying blind here. Great timing!!!
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 684
Quoting Floodman:


Let's get through third down and see where he ends up...it doesn't look good though


probably going to be a typical Cowboys 3rd down play, run up the middle for no yards....
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Hi Storm, What do you believe are the chances that the low pressure in the Midwest hooks into the storm and pulls in into SE NE ?
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nope not ready in elizabeth city nc
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Does Fiona look to be going W and seperating from Earl. It looks like shes going into the Carribean!
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So it looks like Earl is heading more NW now finally. The big question will be is will the trof get here before he makes impact on the NC shore?

A.) Yes, and he'll just paintbrush most of the Eastern Coast.

B.) Yes, and it'll push him far enough way to just cause minimal damage

C.) No, Earl will make landfall and then be pushed up the coast in the worst possible scenario.

D.) No, Earl will make landfall and not get pushed much at all until he's far weaker to really impact anything north other than as a rainmaker

E.) I have no Idea.

I'm leaning between C and E personally.
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Earl appears to have the wobbles!
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Are you ready for the storm there in richmond,because we are here in D.C.


Yup. one of our local stations, WTVR CBS 6 in richmond is calling for the hurricane to make landfall in NC and have Hampton roads receive hurricane force winds cat 1 strength, Richmond though looks to be receiving, ehh.. gusts up to 30 or 40 mph, 25mph sustained, with some rain, some folks along VA down the outer banks could see anywhere from 5 to 10" of rain!!
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:


LOL - just wondering if folks were actually paying attention too much of the BS in here! LOL.

Ok, sorry. But, maybe it was light, just briefly. We've been fairly tense. ;)


It's OK :) Had just signed on though and you got me for a sec :)
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Quoting leo305:
Earl seems to be speeding up a bit


Models diverging again.
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No wonder most of the models dont develop 98L. The SHIPS shows a pretty unfavorable environment.

SHEAR (KT) 7 5 7 13 14 11 20 16 15 14 18 15 16
SHEAR ADJ (KT) 9 10 9 4 5 8 5 3 5 0 0 0 -2
SHEAR DIR 113 99 112 153 180 183 199 192 184 172 184 197 204
SST (C) 28.2 28.1 28.0 27.9 27.8 27.7 27.9 28.1 28.4 28.4 28.4 28.4 28.5
POT. INT. (KT) 140 139 137 135 134 132 135 138 142 142 143 143 144
ADJ. POT. INT. 141 139 135 132 130 126 129 132 136 136 137 137 137
200 MB T (C) -52.8 -53.0 -53.1 -52.8 -52.7 -52.9 -52.4 -52.6 -52.3 -52.3 -52.3 -52.5 -52.3
TH_E DEV (C) 8 8 8 8 8 7 8 7 8 8 8 8 10
700-500 MB RH 48 48 46 45 44 44 39 39 33 34 35 32 33
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yellow looks bad!!!!!
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NHC= Now Hurricane Curve,lol
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Quoting centex:
Maybe and no expert. It's right of track now and think that is the trend that will go down in history.

What do you mean?
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Earl seems to be speeding up a bit
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Quoting StSimonIslandGAGuy:
Earl will wipe wilmington north carolina off the map forever with 155 mph winds, look out norfolk va beach area too this will be downright cataclysmic, evacuate now if you live in these areas your life depedns on it


I hope Karma comes to bite you 3-times as bad for trying to frighten people. Your post deserves it.
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Quoting jason2010xxxx:
now we have two modeles back to the west yellow and black modeles.
Both from the Navy. I usually don't discount them completely, but almost completely. The Navy models are rarely on the mark, but, ehh, maybe...

Where is Skye with the handy link on model skill?
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Well u are acting like a 13 yr old so grow up. Whats next?? A cat 5 bearing down on FL and you lightheartidly joke around??
Thats not fair to hurricne he is 13.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Well u are acting like a 13 yr old so grow up. Whats next?? A cat 5 bearing down on FL and you lightheartidly joke around??

Where? Apparently I've missed it.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I think the track in the middle is more likley.
Maybe and no expert. It's right of track now and think that is the trend that will go down in history.
Member Since: August 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3278
Prepare for the worst...Hope for the best...
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not packing yet here in elizabeth city nc just wait till tomorrow then we see what happens
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Nope.
Are you ready for the storm there in richmond,because we are here in D.C.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17093
Wow, people are throwing razors around here tonight
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01/0015 UTC 12.2N 31.9W T1.5/1.5 98L -- Atlantic
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Quoting jason2010xxxx:
north carolina will not have winds up to 155 mph we are being silly here
Right up there with your best. Post. Ever.
(but, then again, I haven't seen many of them. Keep it up.)
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935. KBH
Quoting RadarNerd:
Interesting to watch the high over the U.S. erode in 3hr increments looking at the CIMSS wind steering level maps.

Most of the satellite feeds seem dead on the NHC site if it hasn't been mentioned already,




Where can I get a link to the site with the wind flow patterns
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98L, at least in my eyes, appears to be continuing to organize.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Hum, and his avatar has no shirt, as well.



LMAO. How can you tell?
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


Earl trying to form a new eye


indeed.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Hum, and his avatar has no shirt, as well.
HA!
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting marmark:
OMG! How awful...picturing windows blowing out...am I correct?


No they didnt blowout but a few did get knock out from something dont remember what it was
but i do remeber standing out side in the eye
thinking wow till it was over with and my dad took me to check on the cows by the way for us the back side of the storm seemed much worse.
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


i hope ur being sarcastic


Nope.
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Not an expert here, but it seems to me that something really critical in determining Earl's track is how far westward the Atlantic (Bermuda?) High builds/ridges. Does anyone know if it has stopped expanding towards the U.S., or if it's continuing to expand?
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Anyone noticed that all the atlantic floaters are being used for a particular storm??
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A little late!
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Quoting hurricaneman123:


i hope ur being sarcastic


no he isnt, the guy he is respoinding too is a fake
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Quoting centex:
I don't think he would be west at this hour. But I shouldn't speak for him. It basically followed the NHC track, it did stair step, not wobble like many said. It's now making the move from NW to NNW, it's over for the west folks. I didn't buy track either, and followed the trend west, but that is over and we need to get over it.
I think the track in the middle is more likley.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17093

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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.

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