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 pilotguy1:
The blog has gone nuts. What are you people talking about?
To many sips and not enough F5's i see j/k
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Quoting will40:

you below surfcity right?



yep in new hanover county but I am about 20 miles south of surf city
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Quoting eyesontheweather:
Is he going to go for it on 4th or will he punt???


Let's get through third down and see where he ends up...it doesn't look good though
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922

Quoting Hurricanes101:


I think the more appropriate call for Fiona would be

Running into the kicker, 10 yard penalty, automatic FIRST DOWN!!


That I one I agree with. LOL Thanks to a family of football fanatics I actually understand what you're talking about. Love it!!!
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Whatever Xcool put up in 215 looks like an evil clown face! Run!
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Hurricane Football. Wow this is interesting! hahaha
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The Weather channel completely baffles me! If it doesn't curve and brushes Florida, well are they going to wait till its on top of them to say hey guess what we should have gave a model for this also, sorry about that. All the talk from blogger's from up North all worried, well what do you think southern Floridians might be feeling.
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Quoting StormW:


False start!, 98L, 10 yard penalty!


I think the more appropriate call for Fiona would be

Running into the kicker, 10 yard penalty, automatic FIRST DOWN!!
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Quoting K8eCane:

Well,I live in New Hanover not Onslow!

you below surfcity right?
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4238
Quoting weatherwart:


Turkey's coming home to roost.


May as well move now and save some stuff! Is that the current run? I'm afraid to look!
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Quoting Floodman:


Earl's in a bad spot here...he really couldn't afford that loss of down; 3rd and Wilmington to go and the trof in the secondary has been shutting him down all day
Is he going to go for it on 4th or will he punt???
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Wait a minute, the coach for the CV Wave team has called a time out...looks like...yep...it's a full EWRC time out; we'll take this opportunity to take a break with these messages from our sponsor
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting K8eCane:

Well,I live in New Hanover not Onslow!
You live in Illinois?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
255. unf97
Good evening!
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254. xcool


he moved back wnw..
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Quoting canehater1:


That's me, directly under that 2 pm Saturday dot. *sigh*
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 361
Quoting InTheCone:


What the bleepity, bleep is all that???


Turkey's coming home to roost.
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caicosretired are you going to keep us updated on the weather there as earl gets closer?
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Quoting weatherwart:

Upload a pic, modify series and set as "primary portrait."


Thanks. Haven't made it work yet but will try again later this evening after returning from dinner. Play nice, kids!
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Holy cow, that is not pretty.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No, you're under a hurricane watch if you live along North Carolina.

Well,I live in New Hanover not Onslow!
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245. xcool
shawn26 GFS shows storms.
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Quoting xcool:


OHH WOW


What the bleepity, bleep is all that???
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Quoting StormW:


What I'm thinking might happen is, as that area backs SW, he may slow some...the trof may just make it. If not, then we'll have to see how the ridge orients further.

LINK


That ULL coming down in to Ga. going to have any effect on guidence models
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Xcool what is that?
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Thank you. I have a close friend who lives on the coast of NS and she is planning on going to a dog show on the mainland and being able to get home, so I worry as I don't think they really all worry too much up there about hurricanes. I have talked her into doing some stocking up.


I'm sure they've been thru the drill before. Good luck.
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Quoting weatherwart:

Somebody's gonna have to put it in the air. Hail Mary.


quarterback sneak
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4238
Quoting StormW:
Delay of recurve, Earl, penalty declined...third down.


Earl's in a bad spot here...he really couldn't afford that loss of down; 3rd and Wilmington to go and the trof in the secondary has been shutting him down all day
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Hey StormW still at work. Long hours Big tourney in Sarasota this weekend. You post 219. Are you expecting a delay in the curve. Which would mean further west?
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Quoting crashingwaves:



I clicked on the NHC page and got some hurricane chat room. Even the Atlantic graphical tropical shows an error with the page. I don't know.
Sounds like rootkit type virus. You may want to run a scan.
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well...

that dont sound good ughhh
Member Since: August 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 895
Quoting WaterWitch11:
stormw,
isn't there a model to show storm surge?


Link

Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4238
233. xcool


OHH WOW
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Thank you. I have a close friend who lives on the coast of NS and she is planning on going to a dog show on the mainland and being able to get home, so I worry as I don't think they really all worry too much up there about hurricanes. I have talked her into doing some stocking up.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3126
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Well at least we get to replay 3rd! lol
Member Since: August 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 895
Quoting StormW:
Delay of recurve, Earl, penalty declined...third down.


Encroachment! Fiona, 10 yards!
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Models continue to trend ever so slightly west bit by bit, day by day. Is say he's definitely heading more nw now. But only nw, will be interesting to see how they look this time tomorrow with some of the latest runs mAking landfall now .
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Quoting StormW:
Delay of recurve, Earl, penalty declined...third down.

Somebody's gonna have to put it in the air. Hail Mary.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
When Juan hit NS, only one bridge was closed, the other remained open. Do you think this will be worse than Juan?


Diff. angle of approach.
The eyewall with Earl would (hypothetically speaking) be the western side, a.o.t. the whole shebang with Juan.
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stormw,
isn't there a model to show storm surge?
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223. xcool


uk shows 98L
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Quoting thelmores:


Congratulations! :)

In 5 years on the blog, I have only ignored one person...... and that was JFV last season.....

You just became only the 2nd! Respectfully! :)

Poof!
Well, has the predictions been wrong, I don't know, but I can tell the guy was not trying to insult the good doctor just saying that even the experts are wrong
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Quoting K8eCane:
Post # 169 is inaccurate...it shows me under H warning and i am just under TS warning
No, you're under a hurricane watch if you live along North Carolina.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193

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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.