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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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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No one in Delaware seems particularly concerned about Earl...
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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.

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Quoting FLdewey:

Shhhhhhhh.
OK, got your number now.
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Pictures from Tortola, hurricane Earl

http://stormcarib.com/reports/current/bvi.shtml


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. :)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That's what SHE said. ;)


ROTFL!!!!!!!
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6874
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


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!
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Quoting CaneWarning:


Hey, what's wrong with Publix?
Not a thing! Love Publix....it's just the other shoppers....hehe
Member Since: February 1, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 243
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Quoting Engine2:
Not quite the activity I'd expect in this blog with a storm like Earl threatening
Well this blog is like the most popular weather blog on the internet,and some unwanted guess will always show up.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16439
Quoting Engine2:
Not quite the activity I'd expect in this blog with a storm like Earl threatening


I'm in NS, you can bet I will be on here from now until Saturday
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Quoting Engine2:
Not quite the activity I'd expect in this blog with a storm like Earl threatening
Maybe most of the bloggers are Texans or Floridians?
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New Blog!

Link
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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
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Quoting marmark:
So you must be one of those Publix shoppers that annoy the rest of us? LOL


Hey, what's wrong with Publix?
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We will forgive you for skirting Quebec. Can't understand a thing they say anyway, but the poutine is awesome! If you need a hair of the dog, beer and clamato is a good one.

Now back to the weather. It's raining here today.
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Probably fairly quiet because we can't watch Earl wobble and bobble on the floaters while the servers seem to be down.
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Quoting Engine2:
Not quite the activity I'd expect in this blog with a storm like Earl threatening


What activity would you expect? Dr. Masters update really killed the blog. Why would people sit around here and fret about a storm that may never make landfall in the U.S.?
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Quoting fatlady99:


Ummm... are you talking about the blog or the storms?


Ah! Sorry Geoff. I see you covered that already. Or maybe it covered you....

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Quoting FLdewey:

Nobody else would dare drink one. ;-)

I have to admit I'm a dirty American, but I've spent 30 months over the past 5 years in all parts of Canada, while carefully avoiding Quebec. ;-)

Canada rocks!
So you must be one of those Publix shoppers that annoy the rest of us? LOL
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Quoting MrstormX:
Better sense of the setup over the CONUS...





Wait.. the trough isn't even on the east coast yet on that last frame and yet earl still doesn't make landfall in NC.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6874
Not quite the activity I'd expect in this blog with a storm like Earl threatening
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I am having no problems with the NHC satellites.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That's what SHE said. ;)
Acually I think Fiona wanted to be independent,and steal Earl's show away from him....or was she just tagging along like little siblings do?.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That's what SHE said. ;)


LOL!
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014130 1311N 05943W 9107 00950 0142 +224 +195 084003 004 /// /// 00
This cant be right!
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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.


It's gonna be close, that's for sure. While shear is favorable at the moment, the eastern periphery of the Atlantic subtropical ridge is entraining dry air associated with the SAL into the circulation of this system. This will be the primary inhibiting factor against development over the next couple of days.
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Pictures from Tortola, hurricane Earl

http://stormcarib.com/reports/current/bvi.shtml
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Quoting FLdewey:

Just hit the monkey exhibit at the zoo... you can watch it all day long.


Ummm... are you talking about the blog or the storms?
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
12z UKMET showing 98L as a weak low pressure moving WNW.
120 Hrs
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Hurricane Earl, Tropical Storm Fiona, Invest 98L...When the invests get the "S" shape, you know its organizing.

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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.


Welcome aboard cYcLoN1C86..... with an introduction like that, how could we not like ya! LOL

I have a son who is a high school senior.....

Lots of good info here, great site in the direction you are heading! Enjoy your time before college..... my best advice! :)

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Tall, cool one...are you there?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That's what SHE said. ;)
Ha!
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Quoting FLdewey:
Clamato? Only if it's in a Bloody Caesar.

Ooooooo Caaaaan-o-duh


I knew there were Canucks on board! No one else knows what a Caesar is!

So,I've just checked in. Has Earl "made the turn" or is he still continuing in a more westerly pattern?
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Quoting xcool:


And who had their doubts about 98L? In this season, every wave could form. Especially since by next Monday, the beginnings of upward motion from the MJO in the Caribbean:0
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Quoting KoritheMan:


No, you're right.
That's why I think it will be trouble down the road.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16439
Quoting marmark:
I think it is amazing that we are able to witness the joining of Earl and Fiona...very rarely seen!


That's what SHE said. ;)
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Quoting MrstormX:
Question... could remnants of Fiona slip under Earl (plus his shear) and reamerge into the Caribbean


Nah.
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Quoting pilotguy1:


It's another government conspiracy.


ROFL
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Quoting RainyEyes:
Is the NHC Satalites down? Or the site? Can't get on...

Thanks


Yeah they're down.
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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.