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 mrpuertorico:

I havent heard much


Regarding Anguilla, Storm Carib has a link to Mr. Steve Donohoes blog with pictures & stories: http://www.anguilla-weather.com/earl.html

Sorry for no link...
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Mid air Collision at 25N 70W
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Quoting Vero1:


He'd hire a lawyer and sue the NHC.


Personal Foul 10 yard penalty. Second Down.
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Quoting fatlady99:


More like a bunch of adolescent males futilely trying to prove their manhood by indulging in silly misogynist humor.

Or, of course, children stirring the pot to alleviate their boredom.
Or that to.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15716
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Reminds me of the old toothpaste commercial:

"Just as I am protected by this invisible shield."
im tellin ya crs its like its taking a jog right around ya. lets hope it keeps doing that
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After this EWRC... the eye could be substantially larger, that could lead to it becoming Annular (lesser effects from outside, and EWRCs)
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Quoting MelbourneTom:
NHC web services are slowly coming back. Looks like Earl will likely pass just East of the 01/600Z forecast point. That would be good news for all.


I agree 100% on that one.
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Quoting CaneAddict:


I'm actually both, is theyre a problem?


yea..... but you can handle your tequila and pot! LOL
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When is Recon suppose to be back in Earl?
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Interesting setup for next week.

8 to 10 DAY 500MB MEAN

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Quoting CaneAddict:
My track, call me a west-caster all you wan't. I am not the NHC I don't go with the computer models 100% of the time, Agree or disagree this is what the blog is for..a good debate.



It's already going West of forecast points at this time so I don't see this scenario unfolding. JMO
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Stretched blog...Flag thrown on field.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10578
Quoting Vero1:


He'd hire a lawyer and sue the NHC.


Hahahah! Good one!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Earl as a category 4; peak intensity so far, unless it intensifies some more.


That's my desktop background! XD
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You too cfs...Stay safe up there. Looks like Earl should follow all the rules now, but there's always that outside chance.
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Quoting StormW:


She should remain on the weaker side of the storm. Could catch some precip...and if he got close enough, maybe some minimal TS winds...but that chance right now is pretty small.


Thanks for the info. Trying to get her for a visit to Gods country. Probably won't work. Thanks again!
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Not much in the way of HH data right now.





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Quoting washingtonian115:
Well who knows maybe we could be seeing another case like with Colin this year where he went from,a storm to an open wave,and then regenerated(or am I thinking about another storm?)


Was actually thinking that myself earlier as I read Fiona's Discussion. Seems plausible.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The blog is a little...ummm...how do I put this...interesting tonight.


It's been like this lately. How are things going MH?
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Quoting StormW:


Personal foul! Ejected from the game! LOL
Well you gotta admit though.....it kinda is......
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15716
548. Vero1
Quoting trey33:


And if she did, how would that affect Earl? Seriously, I don't know.


He'd hire a lawyer and sue the NHC.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I see the blog is a little fiesty tonight like a women on her monthly.


More like a bunch of adolescent males futilely trying to prove their manhood by indulging in silly misogynist humor.

Or, of course, children stirring the pot to alleviate their boredom.
Member Since: September 4, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 410
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The blog is a little...ummm...how do I put this...interesting tonight.


You noticed that too? Too much wacky tobbacky? Too many late hours tracking?
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good to see you on sj
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Quoting CoopsWife:


And just how close do you think we want those billion dollar vessels to a major storm? Even the carriers move carefully AROUND an area of gale force winds, much less TS or hurricanes.


Well, and Who would order those assets to be moved like that?
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Can someone please explain to me if at 5pm Fiona was at 16.7N/57.7W and at 8pm is at 16.8N/58.7W how does that compute to wnw ?
Good night StormW, can you please answer this for me. TIA
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Quoting powerlineman2:
Are you High or drinking?


Both perhaps.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Has been all afternoon...lol...Good times.


nothing wrong with good times and smiles. Everyone needs um ;)
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Quoting CoopsWife:


And just how close do you think we want those billion dollar vessels to a major storm? Even the carriers move carefully AROUND an area of gale force winds, uch less TS or hurricanes.


Just a thought, I do not know the range of a UAV, but just a thought.
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Quoting CaneAddict:


Excuse me? I said disagree or agree, not come out with a smartass comment. It's just my thoughts based on the evolving conditions. Don't EVER compare me to reedzone, I don't like him or his unsupported opinions. Thank you, and respect the elders here.


It was a joke... Elders? Ha.
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Quoting StormW:


Personal foul! Ejected from the game! LOL

And a fine payable to the WU beer fund.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The blog is a little...ummm...how do I put this...interesting tonight.


Has been all afternoon...lol...Good times.
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Well who knows maybe we could be seeing another case like with Colin this year where he went from,a storm to an open wave,and then regenerated(or am I thinking about another storm?)
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15716
Earl as a category 4; peak intensity so far, unless it intensifies some more.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
.oops double
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
They have Global Hawks flying missions, NASA has the GRIP Missions, based out of Fort Lauderdale. Now if there were abilities to fly those UAV's off of Naval or Coast Guard Vessels, then why not?


And just how close do you think we want those billion dollar vessels to a major storm? Even the carriers move carefully AROUND an area of gale force winds, much less TS or hurricanes.
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Quoting StormW:


Personal foul! Ejected from the game! LOL


lol! storm
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Reminds me of the old toothpaste commercial:

"Just as I am protected by this invisible shield."
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.............
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The blog is a little...ummm...how do I put this...interesting tonight.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
North Carolina officials just ordered an evacuation of Ocracoke Island ahead of Hurricane Earl.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It wouldn't.


Thanks
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North Carolina officials just ordered an evacuation of Ocracoke Island ahead of Hurricane Earl.
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Question for Storm: I have a cousin somewhere around the DC/Maryland area wondering if the track continues west and goes over the Cape, what kind of weather can she expect in her area? I'm used to tracking Alberta Clippers, not hurricanes, since I'm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Thanks for any information you want to pass.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.