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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So much for hurricane hunting this weekend.
I'll just stay where I am. Don't have to go anywhere. lol

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Quoting StormW:


LINK


Found it, thanks. Looks like it's moving decently, but only in the north.
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167. Bonz
Although I don't wish Earl on anyone, I'm sure glad it's sliding past us in S. Florida.

But o_O on the African choo-choo. Season in full swing!
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Quoting duajones78413:
Is Earl moving NW now?


still says WNW at 14 but I would say its NW at 14.
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Doing okay Flood - enjoying the 75 and sunny thing here. This morning, when I drove my daughter to school, it was 58. Love the San Diego weather. Wake up and thank God every day that I'm home. Four years in Savannah was enough to make me be the most appreciative person in So Cal. I'll take the earthquakes. Kind of feels like the spin cycle is going on the wash machine...sometimes have to take a moment to think "is this an earthquake or am i doing laundry?"

How's by you?
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What? Did I stumble onto the NFL or the American Turkey Growers Assn. site by mistake?
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Quoting katadman:


125 mile penalty!!


Ouch! Loss of down, loss of Category, 125 mile penalty...gee, Bob, Earl has to make it to Wilmington for a first down here...
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Is Earl moving NW now?
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Who is heading to Daytona, Melbourne area surf east of Bahamas 26 ft. North of Bahamas 13.6 ft. Calling all Surfmom's.
I don't care much about the surf boards but the metal detector at Sebastian Inlet. Now there's a plan.
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Quoting leelee75k:
anyone else having issues on NHC website, I'm getting broken links everywhere


I am having issues everywhere, NHC links, no recon information is coming through and the satellite images on the SSD site are not updating either
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Quoting StormW:
Rut Roh!

The African Conga Rain Dance.
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Not much weakening after the RC. Looks to have absorbed and dealt with the shot of dry air.
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Quoting StormW:
Rut Roh!



That's not good! Looks like the little sleep I have been getting will continue...=P
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Quoting StormW:
Rut Roh!



what do you think of 98L StormW?
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It looks like Earl has improved dramatically in the last hour.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/ir2-l.jpg
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I think there was a power failure or something

no recon observations for the last hour or so
recon should be on its way to Earl now, but nothing is posted

in fact the tropical Atlantic site looks like it has crashed
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Fldewey doubt worry about Oz he knows the Tin Man. Connections in the garbage recycling you know, buddies with Wayne.
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Quoting melwerle:
Personally, I think the secret deflector shield is OZ...he starts heading for somewhere and the storm turns away. ;)


LOL...now THAT'S funny!

How are you, mel?
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I live in Va. Beach. What should we expect being 150-200 miles west of storm?

Also, I'm curious as to why with every time they say the models have trended west they don't bring the storm any closer to the coast?

Is the front that is supposed to pull Earl east moving at this time?
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anyone else having issues on NHC website, I'm getting broken links everywhere
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The CMC by itself doesn't count. lol


True, but I think it has a decent chance.
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Quoting Ryuujin:
Question.

When is 305 degrees on a 360 degree circle considered NW?


It's actually NWbW
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What are the odds this will pan out similar to Hurricane Alex (2004) where it brushed the OBX as a 2 then went by New England as a Cat 3? I'd say it is looking good, although this time around I expect Earl to be the other way around (same path - but brush OBX as a 3, pass NE as a 2). I was in Waves, NC during Alex. Pretty intense. Would not stay there for a Cat 3 though.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


CMC develops it now and makes it a decent storm heading west towards the islands
Yup. CMC 12z, 144 hours below. Heading due west.

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Quoting StormW:




Storm, did you write your response i n invisible e-ink?
I can't seem to find it ;)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The CMC by itself doesn't count. lol


it was the only one to develop Bonnie and it was right
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Quoting StormW:


Flag thrown on the play! Earl, number AL07, offsides to the west of track, 10 yard penalty!


125 mile penalty!!
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


CMC develops it now and makes it a decent storm heading west towards the islands


The CMC by itself doesn't count. lol
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Quoting DestinJeff:


What? Jennie-O Turkey is Earl's sponsor? When did this happen?

Oh man! Jeff I dont know what you are smoking but I havent laughed this much in a LONG time! LOL!
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Quoting Levi32:


I notice none of the models show anything coming of it, and that's probably because it really does have a good chance of dying to all the dry air slamming into it from the north and getting out in front of it. It could pull an underdog though if it keeps a well-defined circulation and fights through puffs of convection to keep some low pressure going, but not too sure about that one yet. My focus has yet to switch over there. Gotta take one train car at a time lol.
Lol, just wondering. Thanks for the response...thanks to you beell...sorta. LOL, J/k.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21122
Quoting Levi32:


I notice none of the models show anything coming of it, and that's probably because it really does have a good chance of dying to all the dry air slamming into it from the north and getting out in front of it. It could pull an underdog though if it keeps a well-defined circulation and fights through puffs of convection to keep some low pressure going, but not too sure about that one yet. My focus has yet to switch over there. Gotta take one train car at a time lol.


CMC develops it now and makes it a decent storm heading west towards the islands
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Quoting DestinJeff:


What? Jennie-O Turkey is Earl's sponsor? When did this happen?
hush you! Stupid iPad auto correct feature!
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Quoting Levi32:
18z NOGAPS is a little scary:



NOGAPS has a landfall on Hatteras since this morning's update. The scary thing is the GFS has it 68nm off the coast of Hatteras when last night it was over 150nm.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Levi, Storm, beell, whoever,

what are your thoughts on 98L?


I notice none of the models show anything coming of it, and that's probably because it really does have a good chance of dying to all the dry air slamming into it from the north and getting out in front of it. It could pull an underdog though if it keeps a well-defined circulation and fights through puffs of convection to keep some low pressure going, but not too sure about that one yet. My focus has yet to switch over there. Gotta take one train car at a time lol.
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126. beell
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Levi, Storm, beell, whoever,

what are your thoughts on 98L?


Been spending the time I have on Earl. No clue!
Fiona likes the GFS. She always has.

My tropical update for the day...
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Quoting Ryuujin:
Destin, StormW. What do you two think of my friends thoughs on that Trof not even turkey making it to the Midwest until late Thursday early Friday, and if that happens, how will it affect Earl's motion?
I'm in Columbus Ohio, not cool down projected until early Friday morning.

We can always turn on a bunch of fans and try to push it over east.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Local Met just said "back to you Bob".

what does that mean?


His name wasn't Neil, was it?
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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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