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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Deadly storm Jeanne - I think the deadliest storm of 2004.
Quoting StormJunkie:


Agreed Beach...The olden days of that happening to NC are 10+ years out now...They are the ones that use to get multiple storms year in and year out. '04 & '05 certainly sparked a lot of interest in people throughout Fla. Still can't get over Jeanine sitting there for 24hrs straight...

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1570. bassis
on the website http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Loops/SURGE_NORTH_EAST/SURGE_NORTH_96_HR.shtml

The legion goes from-2.0 to 5.0, could some desifer what this really means in feet
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Concur, asked about this possibility earlier, Miami09 and the regulars who were on at the time seemed to dismiss it. Interesting scenario IMHO.
you never know what mother nature might drum up
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
anyone link for leeward radar


This one? Link
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Quoting StormJunkie:
Will, unless he goes wayyy N, that is the only place I see him having a chance to "get the shots" he wants though. He's well prepared physically, and equipment wise...Just not sure he sees the bigger picture of how to accomplish what he wants.



Hey John, i got your feed ready to go on my Website as well along with 2 commuinty Chat rooms and an Instant Messanger as well. Everything does work fine as i have already tested with his last run.
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To those looking for advice there is still relatively solid information in it tonight despite lack of posters with high post counts and some of the mets. Imo check back in the am for Dr masters and storm w information. Earl won't be threatening tomorrowListen to your local authority and stay ready just in case the situation continues to sour and trend westward as it has been.
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1565. JLPR2
The north blob of Fiona is not where the circulation is, the one to the south has it.



Around 17N 59.4W according to the NHC
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one thing not fun for us here in mass is we have to wait to see how other systems will interact with earl which doesnt give us much lead time i feel like it will be thursday when they will be able to say duck or wave bye bye to earl
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00Z GFS on Earl's closest approach (+57 hrs):

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Quoting amd:


I'll give this a shot. I wouldn't be shocked if some of the energy of Fiona goes into the Caribbean, while the other part of Fiona gets entrained into Earl. Don't think much will happen though with that energy.
Concur, asked about this possibility earlier, Miami09 and the regulars who were on at the time seemed to dismiss it. Interesting scenario IMHO.
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1561. wjdow
Quoting HurricaneLovr75:
THAT IS WHAT I'M THINKING.


caps off or poof, doesn't matter to me
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Quoting MZT:
Well it is VERY dry and still in Charlotte right now. Does not have that cirrus-y, breezy feel to the air that is present before a hurricane. Guess it'll be tomorrow afternoon before that begins.
thats the calm before the storm
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
I think it has something to do with the seasons we had in 2004 and 2005. We got hammered over & over... even Ike & Katrina gave us some serious beach erosion.


Agreed Beach...The olden days of that happening to NC are 10+ years out now...They are the ones that use to get multiple storms year in and year out. '04 & '05 certainly sparked a lot of interest in people throughout Fla. Still can't get over Jeanine sitting there for 24hrs straight...

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Time for nite-nite. (Yes I have kids) Earl will still be here in the AM. God bless Y'all
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1557. JRRP
Quoting coriolis:


Dang it, Africa, STOP IT!

looks like Africa has diarrea of TW
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Quoting wjdow:

]
fewer caps please


Was a cut and paste from the NHC site.
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anyone link for leeward radar
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THAT IS WHAT I'M THINKING.
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Earl on GOES-15:

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Quoting reedzone:
Made my 3rd run on Earl just now.. Just a reminder that the light orange skinny line is the outliers of how far Earl can go, orange track is pretty much a "possible path", the big red line is my forecast and what I believe is the more likely scenario. It all depends on how fast Earl can go, can he beat the trough?

Photobucket


"all consists" ???
How about "is contingent upon" ?
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1551. MZT
Well it is VERY dry and still in Charlotte right now. Does not have that cirrus-y, breezy feel to the air that is present before a hurricane. Guess it'll be tomorrow afternoon before that begins.
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Just tried looking at floaters for Earl and can't even log in to view......guess the servers are all over whelmed.
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Will, unless he goes wayyy N, that is the only place I see him having a chance to "get the shots" he wants though. He's well prepared physically, and equipment wise...Just not sure he sees the bigger picture of how to accomplish what he wants.

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Thank you!
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00Z GFS @ 45 hrs.







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1546. 2COOL
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_640.asp?product=goes-east_4km_ir4
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
The big picture:



Dang it, Africa, STOP IT!
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1544. amd
Quoting want2lrn:
Hey regulars, newbie here. A quick question then back behind my bush...It looks like Fiona has split in half. Does that hold any significance, since it looks like the lower half is heading into the caribbean? No stick throwing please, im shuffling quickly back to the lurk bush......


I'll give this a shot. I wouldn't be shocked if some of the energy of Fiona goes into the Caribbean, while the other part of Fiona gets entrained into Earl. Don't think much will happen though with that energy.
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I think it has something to do with the seasons we had in 2004 and 2005. We got hammered over & over... even Ike & Katrina gave us some serious beach erosion.
Quoting StormJunkie:


Lol, true...Also, a very large population that has been through it before. Plenty of kids that want to go through it for the first time; etc.

Did not mean that with any disrespect, but this blog certainly has a Fla bias ;)
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Quoting MZT:
In 1989 I was living in Raleigh. We knew Hugo was coming right towards us, and I got together with friends and we played cards waiting for the event. We were a bit perplexed near midnight, and step outside to a dry and windy night. Everyone drove home, realizing there was nothing to "strand us togther".

The next morning, the news was all about what happened Charleston up through Charlotte.

Forecasts do miss at the last moment sometimes.


thank you for saying this. Floyd was suppost to hit Florida next thing you know hes hitting wilmington, NC and dumped 25 inches of rain over eastern NC. Little wobbles in track can mean a landfall in SE NC while a wobble to the right means no landfall at all. Everyone in the Carolinas needs to get prepared even if Earl does not make landfall for the next 4 systems lined up taking similar tracks as Earl!!!!
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Been pondering... will the cut off ULL over LA/MS have any effect on Earl? Seems like that might be a weakness on the sw portion of the H. Please forgive my ignorance...just a stupid lurker!
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1540. wjdow
Quoting HurricaneLovr75:
THE
TIMING OF THIS TURN IS CRITICAL IN DETERMINING HOW CLOSE THE CENTER
WILL COME TO THE U.S. EAST COAST. ONE SHOULD NOT FOCUS ON THE
EXACT FORECAST TRACK BECAUSE OF FORECAST UNCERTAINTY...AND ALSO
BECAUSE EARL IS A LARGE HURRICANE AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS CAN BE
WELL REMOVED FROM THE CENTER.

]
fewer caps please
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1539. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52384
Quoting want2lrn:
Hey regulars, newbie here. A quick question then back behind my bush...It looks like Fiona has split in half. Does that hold any significance, since it looks like the lower half is heading into the caribbean? No stick throwing please, im shuffling quickly back to the lurk bush......


The people that could answer that best don't seem to be here right now (I don't think). You might try again in the morning.
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This makes me think of Hurricane Agnes, with some trepidation and fond memories of our wedding. We were married in PA during Agnes, and it stopped raining the afternoon of June 24. We lost friends and my family in NY lost their homes. Such a disaster. It's funny that most people don't think about the disaster that can occur on the upper east coast and New England from a hurricane. Everyone assumes it only happens in Florida and the Gulf...oh so wrong.
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i dont know if istory palys a part in waht these storms can do but gloria and bob sat off the carolina coast just like earl will and they came stright up at us here
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Quoting GetReal:
how does ststorm move noth with the high positioned offed the east coa
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
SJ -
Its because we Floridians are StormJunkies! ROFL Mention a tropical storm & we all flock to WU....


Lol, true...Also, a very large population that has been through it before. Plenty of kids that want to go through it for the first time; etc.

Did not mean that with any disrespect, but this blog certainly has a Fla bias ;)
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There has been lots of talk about the speed of the approaching trough and the interaction with Earl.Not much about the orientation of the trough which will prove equally important. The trough can beat Earl to the coast, but if trough axis goes negative, Earl runs up Narragansett bay. The trough has not been that progressive so far and there is definitely some blockiness from the negative NAO (GFS has extratropical remnants going due north of NS and looping NW over northern Labrador). I am not saying the flow is going to go more north-south, but watch how far south the polar vortex gets ejected behind the cold front. That will dictate orientation of the trough axis.
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1531. will40
Quoting StormJunkie:


And for what he does, the OBX is going to be the only place to be to get what he wants...It's a real shame.


Yes could get very scary and dangerous for sure
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THE
TIMING OF THIS TURN IS CRITICAL IN DETERMINING HOW CLOSE THE CENTER
WILL COME TO THE U.S. EAST COAST. ONE SHOULD NOT FOCUS ON THE
EXACT FORECAST TRACK BECAUSE OF FORECAST UNCERTAINTY...AND ALSO
BECAUSE EARL IS A LARGE HURRICANE AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS CAN BE
WELL REMOVED FROM THE CENTER.
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SJ -
Its because we Floridians are StormJunkies! ROFL Mention a tropical storm & we all flock to WU....
Quoting StormJunkie:


A few things happening...One, the OBX is much less populated than Fla...Two, the storm is NOT heading to Fla...Amazing the difference in traffic when there is a potential for a Fla landfall.
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1528. twooks
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
00z GFS starting now


Thks.

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1527. wjdow
Quoting RMM34667:
This is really really strange. Cat 4 heading for the east coast and I can keep up with the blog.

Something wrong here. Of course I'm in FL and don't have any storm preparations to make. Hopefully that's what is happening and everyone is getting prepared for what might come their way!


Good point, North Carolina coast is relatively less populated than Fla or Gulf, but New England hasn't seen a big storm in a long time. Weather Underground got a lot of new members around K, R and I. Another meaning for the word storm surge when suddenly many more people take an interest in the tropics.
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I have noticed the absence of many of the knowledgeable blog regulars tonight. I suspect they may have gone somewhere else to avoid the trolls. Just guessing. Wish they would just use ignore and "show best" and stick around to give those who care information.
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Quoting will40:


i think you are right SJ here on Emerald Isle we have to have a red pass card to show that we own property on the island when it is evacuated


And for what he does, the OBX is going to be the only place to be to get what he wants...It's a real shame.
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1524. GetReal
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1523. MZT
In 1989 I was living in Raleigh. We knew Hugo was coming right towards us, and I got together with friends and we played cards waiting for the event. We were a bit perplexed near midnight, and step outside to a dry and windy night. Everyone drove home, realizing there was nothing to "strand us togther".

The next morning, the news was all about what happened Charleston up through Charlotte.

Forecasts do miss at the last moment sometimes.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
New surface pressure overlays for Gomex and Earl Floater are just out.

Not good really.

the continental ridge remains very strong and is still oriented in a way that is going to make Earl want to hook left again at some point.

Where is that trough?


Can you link that please!
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Earl ain't looking too bad on either infrared or water vapor. I still wish I had some visible or similar proxy to reference for things like cloud thickness and outflow boundaries though.



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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.