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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Hi Storm. Hope you are doing okay.
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
Fiona slowing, and looking better
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:
anyone getting any recon information on Earl?


Yeah hold on, lemme get in my plane. brb.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLdewey:

Was she singing?
Well oblviously someone didn't like it very much.....
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17161
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)


Actually, Fiona will become the first hypercane on its way to Florida.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


What about 98?


Gaston and Hermina fizzle, but Igor runs up the east coast, raking the coastline like a crazed monster that it will be, and becomes the "new-to-be" sci-fi thriller/horror flick by Stephen King.

King uses first-hand, raw footage, having lost his $20 million dollar estate to Igor's wrath!
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Fiona is slowing down, and looking better convectively..
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Quoting PcolaDan:


You never know, I remember back when they told us to put masking tape on the windows, a neighbor down the street didn't have any. So they used ......... scotch tape.

Did come off easier than the masking tape on cleanup though. lol


yep i remember in Hurricane Camile my dad put duck tape on the windows it didnt work out to well for him on the bright side we didnt have to worry about trying to take the tape off
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


We have/had record heat this week, barely any rain for weeks/months. I hope Earl brings lots of rain and slashes the heat down. 30c in Halifax, Nova Scotia this time of year is crazy.


It is sweltering tonight 36 celsius today with the humidity. Deinfitely not normal for this time of year.

This will also have an effect on the SST's. I think they were 18 celsius when Juan came through in late Sept 2003 - now they are 21 celsius in some places off the coast.

SST's North Atlantic
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)


Actually, Fiona will turn into the first Hypercane on its way to Florida.
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Anyone getting any sort of recon information on Earl?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Just so you guys know:



What exactly is the point of posting this? To make people panic and think Earl is going to do what Frances did? Really?
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Hi Storm...
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting Snowfire:
I wonder if Fiona could deflect Earl measurably to the SW via the Fujiwara effect.


Highly unlikely at best-if not virtually impossible. It is far more likely that Earl's outflow will impart high levels of vertical wind shear over Fiona that could very well rip Fiona apart-not to mention act to rob her of its necessary moisture laden environment.

If Fiona can somehow survive the aforementioned relatively hostile environment, it is still possible that she could live to see another day-so to speak.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
anyone getting any recon information on Earl?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLdewey:

Was she singing?


easy fldewey, you have been a little too aggressive tonight, already have had one comment removed, please take it easy.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting FLdewey:

Was she singing?


Thinkin' 'bout it. Any requests?


washingtonian115... :)
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)
Yes, that sums it up nicely
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)


Don't do that... you had me wondering for a sec when I started reading the post...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
843. Relix
So Fiona moved due west. Let's see how that continues.
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)


What about 98?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Everything starts shifting east. Earl is done whether you like it or not.
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Quoting FLdewey:

Was she singing?
HA...are you competing with Destin Jeff?
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 169
What are the latest T# on Earl?
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 169
Quoting StormW:


Haven't look at the SOI chart for a while, is it still climbing?
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
Good evening, all.

Ok, now Fiona and Earl are supposed to Fujiwari, then sling Earl back into the GOM where it crashes the NOLA levies as a CAT 5. The Fuji sends Fiona over Lake O where it remains stationary, dumping 20 inches of rain, the damned dam breaks and floods sFL.

Isn't that the latest? ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 2ifbyC:


Too bad!!!
I think you can take fatlady off of the ignore list.She was only playing around,but it's your decesion.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17161
Quoting osuwxguynew:


Its the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index (ACE) for each of the storms this season.

This provides a metric (one number) describing both the strength and duration of the storm.

An average season sees around 100-105 ACE, so this all means we're about halfway to normal.
Thanks, that helps!
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
827. beell
Quoting osuwxguynew:
Man, did I mention I love the TPW product...

You can see that for much of its life, Earl was moving west or WNW and was pretty much centered in a large wave of deep tropical moisture.

As he started to turn more to the NW today, the wave of moisture accompanying him continued west. This allowed some dry air to catch up with Earl from the east and this got entrained, weakening the deep convection a bit this afternoon.

One more interesting thing to note is the large wave of moisture associated with Fiona. This wave is catching up to Earl, and may actually provide a more moist environment for a while longer on its trip NW towards or more likely offshore of the OBX.

So Fiona will die to give a stronger, longer life to Earl.



Seems like a good observation!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Just so you guys know:

Wow! Thanks. That really puts it in perspective.
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting FLdewey:

HAHAHAHA.... lot's of crying and little action.


and lots of hot air...LOL!
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824. MZV
Quoting Snowfire:
I wonder if Fiona could deflect Earl measurably to the SW via the Fujiwara effect.


Physics would say it has to make *some* difference, even if we can't see it on radar / satellite.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
Quoting marmark:
No, Fiona has no choice but to follow Earl


Earl is having too much fun chewing on her guts:0
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Quoting CaneWarning:


I would certainly care, but I'd care more if it were hitting me. :)
Oh okay.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17161
Quoting Kristina40:


I got a chuckle out of that pic myself. I'm thinking it was meant as a funny.


You never know, I remember back when they told us to put masking tape on the windows, a neighbor down the street didn't have any. So they used ......... scotch tape.

Did come off easier than the masking tape on cleanup though. lol
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010

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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.