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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821. PcolaDan
1:12 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
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
820. 2ifbyC
1:12 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I think


Too bad it's not working fer ya!!!
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819. marmark
1:11 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting ElConando:


That is the totally energy output of the storm in simple terms.
Thanks...no wonder I didn't get it...just too simple for me!
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
816. osuwxguynew
1:10 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting marmark:
I'm not getting that...


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.
Member Since: June 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 291
815. TropicalAnalystwx13
1:10 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Just so you guys know:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
814. marmark
1:10 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting Snowfire:
I wonder if Fiona could deflect Earl measurably to the SW via the Fujiwara effect.
I believe Earl is too large to be affected by little 'ol Fiona.
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
813. Hurricanes4life
1:10 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
How will the moister boost from fiona effect earl?
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 169
812. fatlady99
1:10 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I think Glenn Beck mentioned it Saturday.


You are killing me.

I gotta get me some of that Clamato...
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
810. leo305
1:09 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting Snowfire:
I wonder if Fiona could deflect Earl measurably to the SW via the Fujiwara effect.


its only a 40MPH tropical storm
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
809. ElConando
1:09 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting marmark:
I'm not getting that...


That is the totally energy output of the storm in simple terms.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3778
808. washingtonian115
1:09 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting passthru:
Good lord.That's a real nightmare....
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17485
807. bwi
1:09 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Hi -- Just checking in this evening. I noticed this:

AT 800 PM AST...0000 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM FIONA WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 16.8 NORTH...LONGITUDE 58.7 WEST. FIONA IS
MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 20 MPH...32 KM/HR.

AT 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM FIONA WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 16.7 NORTH...LONGITUDE 57.7 WEST.

Not much north there. I wonder if that blob of convection that was around 16-17n and 58-59w on the 23:45z satellite picture will hold together. Seems to be drifting more west toward the islands, while another blob of storms to the north races NW toward Earl. It's hard for me to see where the low-level circulation is from satellite. I guess there's not much threat weather for the islands either way, but could be interesting if the more southerly blob holds together into the Caribbean?
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1390
806. GoWVU
1:09 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Looking at the sat pics it looks like Earl is going North or am I way off???? And does it look like the High pressure is gonna make it time to the coast?
Member Since: September 12, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 380
805. CaneWarning
1:08 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting washingtonian115:
so your saying that if a storm were to impact haiti,and cause loss of life and significant damage that you wouldn't care....?(now wonder why some islanders think america is selfish when it comes to these kinds of storms).Okay gotcha(being sarcastic.(*.*)


I would certainly care, but I'd care more if it were hitting me. :)
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
804. Snowfire
1:08 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
I wonder if Fiona could deflect Earl measurably to the SW via the Fujiwara effect.
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 309
803. CaneWarning
1:08 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting medicroc:

There's at least a few responses I have in mind but since there's kids here I'll keep em to myself:)


My thoughts exactly. If I said what I was thinking I'd surely get banned.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
802. Grecojdw
1:08 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting cYcLoN1C86:


98L could very well hit a tough patch of sheer but I fell it will be able to develop an anti cyclone. If it were to get near the waters near the Bahamas, or the Florida straights, then the atmosphere could become scary conducive for further intensification.



What if it gets into the Caribbean...not good:0
Member Since: January 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 339
801. GeoffreyWPB
1:07 AM GMT on September 01, 2010
Quoting FLdewey:

What kind of religion is that? Good Lord.


None that I know of.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11432
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I just watch out for the cars with square dance flags or poof balls on their antennas or if I can’t see their heads above the headrests.
HA! and they just can't drive-why is that???
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting powerlineman2:
Hope they dont start makin little earls!


Too late!
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
1.) Alex: 6.78 2.) Bonnie: 0.368
2.) Colin: 1.95 3.) Danielle: 21.8
4.) Earl: 13.2 5.) Fiona: 0.613
___________________________________

Total: 44.7

I'm not getting that...
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting CaneWarning:


Yeah, I'm the same way. As long as they don't hit the U.S. or me I am having fun watching them. Of course, I prefer fish storms though!
so your saying that if a storm were to impact haiti,and cause loss of life and significant damage that you wouldn't care....?(now wonder why some islanders think america is selfish when it comes to these kinds of storms).Okay gotcha(being sarcastic.(*.*)
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17485
Quoting FLdewey:

What kind of religion is that? Good Lord.

There's at least a few responses I have in mind but since there's kids here I'll keep em to myself:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLdewey:

What kind of religion is that? Good Lord.


It appears to be whatever religion Earl is practicing because things aren't looking good for her right now.
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Miami
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
Quoting MZV:


Rooting for a landfall of a TS or weak CAT1 during a drought is permissable. I remember how pissed FL boggers got when Andrea just stalled off the coast, whipping up wind for the brush fires and not bringing rain. Would have been better to just come ashore.


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.
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Quoting Kristina40:


I now pronounce you Husband and Wife, you may eat the bride.
LOL, that's priceless. :P
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Quoting marmark:
Not a thing! Love Publix....it's just the other shoppers....hehe


I just watch out for the cars with square dance flags or poof balls on their antennas or if I can’t see their heads above the headrests.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11432
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Here is a North Carolina girl. I am watching and reading. I live near Raleigh and have a place at Surf City, N.C. Thanks for all of the information that you all provide.
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


That's what I was thinking, lol


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


Rooting for a landfall of a TS or weak CAT1 during a drought is permissable. I remember how pissed FL boggers got when Andrea just stalled off the coast, whipping up wind for the brush fires and not bringing rain. Would have been better to just come ashore.


Yeah, I was rooting for a storm here in Florida a few weeks ago when it was so hot.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting gulfbreeze:
If Earl weakens Fiona could that make Fiona head into the Carb.?
No, Fiona has no choice but to follow Earl
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting Kristina40:


I now pronounce you Husband and Wife, you may eat the bride.
Hope they dont start makin little earls!
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Quoting Kristina40:


I now pronounce you Husband and Wife, you may eat the bride.


Hmmmm. Heh...
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Kristina40:


I now pronounce you Husband and Wife, you may eat the bride.
HA!
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting fldude99:
I hate to admit it..but being in the FL panhandle, I really couldn't care much less about any of these storms curving out to the atlantic..as long as they continue that way and not in the GOM then that's a good thing


By mid-September expect some activity to pick up in the Caribbean and GOM. I do expect some CVH long trackers this September as well.
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
Quoting tinkahbell:
No one in Delaware seems particularly concerned about Earl...


There's probably not much reason to be concerned yet. No watches or warnings for DE.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting CaneWarning:


Things are great. It hasn't been as humid the past couple of days so it isn't too nasty outside!
with the lower humidity,longer nights and a nice steady breeze it was darn nice this morning,not half bad for end of august,won't last long,but nice.....expecting a active wx pattern in about 10-14 days
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777. MZV
Quoting CaneWarning:


Yeah, I'm the same way. As long as they don't hit the U.S. or me I am having fun watching them. Of course, I prefer fish storms though!


Rooting for a landfall of a TS or weak CAT1 during a drought is permissable. I remember how pissed FL boggers got when Andrea just stalled off the coast, whipping up wind for the brush fires and not bringing rain. Would have been better to just come ashore.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
1.) Alex: 6.78 2.) Bonnie: 0.368
2.) Colin: 1.95 3.) Danielle: 21.8
4.) Earl: 13.2 5.) Fiona: 0.613
___________________________________

Total: 44.7

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
Quoting PcolaDan:


Appreciate the links to pics you've been putting up.

Have to comment one one picture though. You know, the one with the wicker chair propped up against the wicker desk, with travel bags on top, all pushed up against the french doors ---- yea, that'll work. :)


That's what I was thinking, lol
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If Earl weakens Fiona could that make Fiona head into the Carb.?
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Coughing up a bit of dry air.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting cYcLoN1C86:
Hey Guys and Gals! I just wanted to introduce myself, I am a senior in high school and will be graduating early in January to attend Texas A&M, to join their meteorology program (atmospheric sciences) I wanted to also thank big contributors such as StormW, and Drak, the 13 year old Miami hurricane dude, and Levi! You all have taught me some good info that will help me in the coming months.

I hope you all will accept me on your Blog, as I will try my best to contribute honest and informative data, along with my UN-biased opinion.


WHOOP!!!!!!!!!!!
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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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