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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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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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!


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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StormJunkie! Glad to see you! : )
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Quoting Floodman:


There will be some flavor of Fujiwhara effect...typicvally, ieht two systems of roughly equal strength, they will circle each other around a center point and eventually combine; in this case, Fiona will orbit Earl until Earl consumes her


Thanks for the info Floodman. I was wondering though if this would slow down or speed up Earl? Fiona already looks like she is becoming part of Earl. She must be moving pretty fast.
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1516. beell
Good night, folks.
Hope you find that trough!
j/k
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16633
1515. will40
Quoting twooks:
When do the new models runs come out? Specifically the European and GFS?


GFS started at 11:30
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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......
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Just trying to get the point out that even if landfall, with the accompanying wind, does not happen, a lot of damage can be done by water. Hopefully no one gets hurt there.
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Quoting StormJunkie:
And one more from Bolivar...

Very sad, but a case study on how the words "certain death" didn't get all the souls to evac.
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1509. twooks
When do the new models runs come out? Specifically the European and GFS?
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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!
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1507. JRRP
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1506. Ryuujin
Quoting reedzonemyhero:
Not to be a downcaster but Earl will graciously turn at least 200 miles East of Cape Hatteras. Guston is the naughty one to pay attention too.



Ah and what's going to turn him? You standing on the Cape and going

"Fffffth.. Fffftth?"

Seriously. Look how bad the Trof is hung up. Unless it moves, and moves FAST, Earl is going to come say hello to a lot of folks on the East Coast. And not in a nice, neighborly sort of way, mind you. And it also seems that Earl's forward momentum has increased.
Member Since: August 20, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 373
Quoting Beachfoxx:
LOL - I worry about that man - Oz.... he ain't right! LOL

Oz ya know I'm just kidding... but I do worry!


I just hope when he leaves the Gene pool.. he does not take any innocent person with him.

HH is feet wet and should be producing soon :)




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1504. JRRP
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1503. will40
Quoting StormJunkie:


No kidding, that is one thin strip of land. Oz is going to be very disappointed. He is flying in to Charlotte tomorrow morning, renting a car, and I suppose trying to drive out to the OBX. One of two things will happen...Either they won't let him on, or Earl will be far enough away that they'll let him on and there won't be much to see.


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
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enough talk about the bolivar peninsula, we get it, Ike devastated it, we are dealing with something at present here. That would be hurricane Earl. Thanks
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1501. snowboy
Quoting songman77:
Anyone have info on how fast the trough is moving across the midwest?


It took a day to get across Minnesota..
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1500. beell
Upper left corner of this loop-digging SE. That is the "energy" that is supposed to get the "job" done. Looks pretty "energetic".

Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16633
1499. wjdow
Quoting Orcasystems:


Remind you of any other place where they let the local residents make uninformed decisions?


Like Katrina, Rita or Ike? Uninformed, misinformed or informed, it's all marginal at a time like this.
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1498. SaoFeng
http://raleighwx.easternuswx.com/models/nogaps/12znogaps500mbHGHTPMSLtropicalnogapsLoop.html SCARY!! good thing it is a model outlier
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Not to be a downcaster but Earl will graciously turn at least 200 miles East of Cape Hatteras. Guston is the naughty one to pay attention too.
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Hey BF :)
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And one more from Bolivar...

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We had a tropical storm (maybe Isidore in '03?) that washed out a lot of roads with her storm surge in Gulf Shores, on west beach. Of course, Ivan was much worse the next year.
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Quoting RMM34667:


OK Done - We KNOW someone is going to need help after Earl passes by. It might even be someone on this blog tonight! So think about it!


FEMA assistance info. Even if you have insurance apply for assistance and fill out all paperwork you receive to include the SBA loan packet, you do not have to accept the loan.

Link
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 344
1492. 2COOL
Quoting PcolaDan:


You talking about Navy Point? I was AMAZED at that. Water had to go over the island, around the Navy Base,take a left turn, go through a roughly 100 yard wide inlet, then demolish houses another half mile away.
Yep, just before you go over the bridge to the Naval Air Station, on the left. I asked one guy, what I could do for him. He said, give him a ride to the gas station which had opened by then. I asked if he needed money, he said nope, he had 5 dollars. He went in and got some milk and a roll. He had lost everything.
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1491. GetReal
Looking at that WV loop I just posted, it looks like that trough in the Midwest is hung up, and maybe delayed, allowing Earl to come further NW and NC...
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anyone have the radar for the leeward islands please can you post the link thanks
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1489. bassis
Quoting Bayside:
Hi all, especially OBX and SE VA residents.

I've been self medicating as instructed by one blogger earlier this week ;)

Not sure that I can go back a couple hundred posts while looking at models, images, etc and still keep up. So, is there anything new in the last couple hours?

Currently the surge model isn't making it look too bad for the bay here, but it can change fast.


Can you post that link of the surge model
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LOL - I worry about that man - Oz.... he ain't right! LOL

Oz ya know I'm just kidding... but I do worry!
Quoting StormJunkie:


No kidding, that is one thin strip of land. Oz is going to be very disappointed. He is flying in to Charlotte tomorrow morning, renting a car, and I suppose trying to drive out to the OBX. One of two things will happen...Either they won't let him on, or Earl will be far enough away that they'll let him on and there won't be much to see.
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Evening Bassis...Had to take a break after this afternoon. Had too much fun in here..lol
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1486. beell
Trough just onshore over the Pacific NW moving ESE/SE.



GOES East 16km WV
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16633
Quoting MZT:


I cannot fathom staying on a N.C. barrier island with anything bigger than CAT1 coming. Those islands have almost NO relief. They are literally "built on sand" and are ready to wash away whenever mother nature decides to reshuffle the landscape.


No kidding, that is one thin strip of land. Oz is going to be very disappointed. He is flying in to Charlotte tomorrow morning, renting a car, and I suppose trying to drive out to the OBX. One of two things will happen...Either they won't let him on, or Earl will be far enough away that they'll let him on and there won't be much to see.
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1484. bassis
Quoting StormJunkie:
Evening late nighters, good to see everyone.

Heard talk of Bolivar...I can promise you that the yellow house with the blue roof was not a photoshop job...Saw it with my own two eyes.

This is not that house, but this is much of what Bolivar looked like...



Good to see you SJ
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Believe me I know - I lived on a barrier island and know what Opal did to my home. No way would I stay... Had 6ft of water & lots of wind damage.
*Destin, FL, Holiday Isle
Quoting MZT:


I cannot fathom staying on a N.C. barrier island with anything bigger than CAT1 coming. Those islands have almost NO relief. They are literally "built on sand" and are ready to wash away whenever mother nature decides to reshuffle the landscape.
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1482. Bayside
Hi all, especially OBX and SE VA residents.

I've been self medicating as instructed by one blogger earlier this week ;)

Not sure that I can go back a couple hundred posts while looking at models, images, etc and still keep up. So, is there anything new in the last couple hours?

Currently the surge model isn't making it look too bad for the bay here, but it can change fast.
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1481. amd
Quoting JP2010:
Earl wave height's & Buoy 41046 just north of the center of Earl should pass very close to this Bouy over the next six hours


i give that buoy a 50/50 chance of surviving throughout the night.
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Quoting MZT:


I cannot fathom staying on a N.C. barrier island with anything bigger than CAT1 coming. Those islands have almost NO relief. They are literally "built on sand" and are ready to wash away whenever mother nature decides to reshuffle the landscape.


Just like the barrier islands here on the Gulf Coast. Only takes a good south winds to blow water over the road on some parts.
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Quoting RMM34667:
I just hope we are not on here this weekend looking at the same type of damage. But if we are I just know portlight will be organizing a response. Actually now might be a good time to make a small donation. Think I'll go do that now!


OK Done - We KNOW someone is going to need help after Earl passes by. It might even be someone on this blog tonight! So think about it!
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1478. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Evening late nighters, good to see everyone.

Heard talk of Bolivar...I can promise you that the yellow house with the blue roof was not a photoshop job...Saw it with my own two eyes.

This is not that house, but this is much of what Bolivar looked like...

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Quoting Orcasystems:


Remind you of any other place where they let the local residents make uninformed decisions?


UGH!
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Maybe I'm just seeing things, but it looks as if Fiona's starting to get swallowed up on the latest satellite loop, kind of like what Wilma did to Alpha back in 2005. He was a much weaker tropical storm, and Wilma was a massive major hurricane.
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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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