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 DestinJeff:
Earl's center doesn't hit NC, but they can see it from their house.

I wonder if you had a message in a bottle and threw it in Earl, I wonder where the bottle would wind up?
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Quoting StormW:


It should be close for the OBX/Hatteras area...but it doesn't look like a direct hit yet. Let me do up some graphics, and I'll explain what SHOULD happen, and any landfall will be based on the timing of these factors.


Thanks, Storm.
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well considering that Earl was first forecast to curve north near Bermuda, Id say this is a pretty close brush with the US
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Earl's center doesn't hit NC, but they can see it from their house.

At least it isnt Russia
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Plus, It isn't only Earl's current trajectory. If the trough is only a little bit slower to the coast than projected, Earl will not curve hard enough fast enough.
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Quoting StormW:


It should be close for the OBX/Hatteras area...but it doesn't look like a direct hit yet. Let me do up some graphics, and I'll explain what SHOULD happen.
Thanks... MY main concern is for Nantucket, and Provincetown on Cape Cod
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Quoting txag91met:


I can't find one model that shows a direct hit.
Trough should be strong enough to drive it East of New York/Boston...although Cape Cod may get it.

Cape Hatteras should be on the western side...but we will see.


NGFDL has it making landfall at the south end of the hurricane watch area. I'm not saying I think that's the right forecast, I'm just saying...
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Quoting jeffs713:

COC won't relocate in hurricanes. They will in weak TS, but not in hurricanes, especially intense hurricanes like Earl.


Yep...too much energy involved at the center of that much atmosphere moving
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Quoting sammywammybamy:




Is 98L already being called pre-Gaston?

Just got home, haven't really checked model support. Speaking of models, can someone link me to the ECMWF 850mb vorticity model without that Allan Huffman site? It's showing the 00Z run from yesterday...
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GFS 72
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Quoting katadman:
When you consider that they are saying within a hundred miles of the coast of Carolina and have a fudge factor of 125 miles ......

Just sayin'.


Therein lies my gastro-intestinal prognostication
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98L slowly getting better organized, however, marginal upper level conditions along with a large mass of dry air to the north will likely keep it in check. Like I mentioned in my blog, it should get bumped to 30%.

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Quoting aislinnpaps:
If the eye relocates to a more west or south location, would that tend to make Earl go more along the western curve of the cone?

COC won't relocate in hurricanes. They will in weak TS, but not in hurricanes, especially intense hurricanes like Earl.
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When you consider that they are saying within a hundred miles of the coast of Carolina and have a fudge factor of 125 miles ......

Just sayin'.
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HurricaneEarl's heading had turned northward to 6.7degrees west of NorthNorthWest
from its previous heading of 5.7degrees north of WestNorthWest
H.Earl's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions was 13mph(~20.9km/h

30Aug . 09pmGMT - - 19.3n64.7w - - 135mph - - 948mb - - NHC.Adv.#22
31Aug . 12amGMT - - 19.4n65.1w - - 135mph - - 939mb - - #22A
31Aug . 03amGMT - - 19.9n65.8w - - 135mph - - 938mb - - #23
31Aug . 06amGMT - - 19.9n66.2w - - 135mph - - 933mb - - #23A
31Aug . 09amGMT - - 20.5n66.7w - - 135mph - - 931mb - - #24
31Aug . 12pmGMT - - 20.7n67.2w - - 135mph - - 931mb - - #24A
31Aug . 03pmGMT - - 21.2n67.9w - - 135mph - - 939mb - - #25
31Aug . 06pmGMT - - 21.5n68.5w - - 135mph - - 940mb - - #25A
31Aug . 09pmGMT - - 22.0n68.8w - - 135mph - - 940mb - - #26
Copy&paste 19.3n64.7w, 19.4n65.1w, 19.9n65.8w, 19.9n66.2w, 20.5n66.7w-20.7n67.2w, 20.7n67.2w-21.2n67.9w, 21.2n67.9w-21.5n68.5w, 21.5n68.5w, 21.5n68.5w-22.0n68.8w, pbi, 22.0n68.8w-34.5n77.32w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the last 12hours.

H.Earl's center had made close passage north of or had hit Anguilla,
and passed within 29miles of Anegada,BritishVirginIslands.
Using straightline projection upon the speed&heading averaged
over the 3hours spanning the last two reported positions:
~76hours from now to Jacksonville,NorthCarolina
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52. bwat
(repost....I was the last one to post on the previous blog....just my luck!)

I don't know what to think! I like the current track keeping him just east of us here in eastern NC, but I have been keeping up with Earl since genesis. I have noticed a more westerly track with every other advisory. I don't want to see it, but just from the history of Earl, a Morehead City to Hatteras landfall doesnt seem so unlikley. I was lurking at work with my dial up connection and was reading of a northern movement which thrilled me. I got home and run the visible loop, and the northern component seemed short lived. Back to lurking for me. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Quoting katadman:
Hi, Flood. What do you think the chances are now of a direct CONUS hit? Models and mets are saying no.


My gut? if we don't see the track change soon call it 70-30, maybe 60-40? If there is a significant aspect change, down from there...

I don't trust tropical systems; they do weird things at the last minute...
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Hurricane Earl's the number 2 topic on twitter.

It beat out Merry Christmas!
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Here is NWS Sterlings (DC) take on Earl. They don't seem too concerned about it as yet.


.LONG TERM /FRIDAY THROUGH TUESDAY/...
-- Changed Discussion --
THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL BE MOVING ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES FROM
LATE THU INTO THE WEEKEND...BUT ITS INFLUENCE WILL REACH TOWARD THE
ERN SEABOARD. THE UPPER RIDGE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR EARLY WEEK WARMTH
WILL WEAKEN AS EARL NEARS THE ATLC COASTLINE. CURRENT NHC FORECAST
CONTINUE TO VARY LITTLE IN TERMS OF THE STRENGTH AND TRACK OF THE
CENTER OF EARL TO CURVE NNE IN THE SRN ATLC...REMAIN OFF THE COAST
OF CAPE HATTERAS AND THEN ACCELERATE NEWD TOWARD - STAYING PARALLEL
OFF THE ATLC COAST.

THE TIGHT GRADIENT OF TROPICAL EFFECTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE RETAINED
FAIRLY CLOSE TO THE CENTER OF THE STORM. THE WESTERNMOST EXTENT OF
THESE EFFECTS /34KT WIND GUSTS OR GREATER/ WOULD BE LIMITED TO THE
COASTAL AREAS ALONG THE ATLC SHORES FROM THE VA TIDEWATER TO SRN NEW
ENGLAND. WITH THE CURRENT FORECAST PATH/STRENGTH UPON PASSAGE OFF
THE COAST...THE LOWER MD BAY/TIDAL POTOMAC INLET AREA WOULD BE THE
MOST LIKELY AREA TO RECEIVE THE VERY WESTERNMOST EDGE OF ANY
ASSOCIATED RAIN BANDS AND/OR GRADIENT WINDS ABOVE 20KT. EARL IS
EXPECTED TO REMAIN OFF THE COAST FOR THE DURATION OF ITS
PASSAGE...WILL BEGIN LATE THU NIGHT AS IT WILL PASS OFF THE CAPE
HATTERAS COAST - THEN OFF THE VA TIDEWATER CLOSER TO DAWN FRI
MORNING...THEN OFF THE DELMARVA COASTLINE THRU THE REST OF THE
DAYTIME HRS.

FOR AREAS WEST OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...INCLUDING THE I-95 CORRIDOR
TO THE CNTRL APLCNS - LITTLE DIRECT IMPACT IS EXPECTED BASED ON THE
CURRENT FORECAST PATH. A SLIGHT DEVIATION IN THE TRACK WOULD BRING
THE EFFECTS CLOSER TO INLAND AREAS...MAINLY OVER THE DELMARVA
PENINSULA AND JUST EAST OF I-95. WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR GUIDANCE
AND FOLLOWING STATEMENTS ISSUED BY NHC.

AS A WEAKENING EARL ACCELERATES OFF TO THE NE ON FRI...A
WEAKENING COLD FRONT WILL BE CROSSING THE MID ATLC /LATE FRI INTO
EARLY SAT/. LITTLE PRECIP EXPECTED FROM THIS FEATURE EITHER...MAINLY
FOR THE WINDWARD SIDES OF THE CNTRL APLCNS. ALL OF THIS ACTIVITY
WILL QUICKLY ROTATE OFF TOWARD THE NE INTO THE WEEKEND...AND ANOTHER
COUPLE OF UPPER TROF AXES SWINGING ABOUT THE UPPER LOW WILL DRAW
DOWN SOME COOLER CANADIAN AIR INTO THE REGION FOR THE COMING
WEEKEND.
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Quoting katadman:
Hi, Flood. What do you think the chances are now of a direct CONUS hit? Models and mets are saying no.


I can't find one model that shows a direct hit.
Trough should be strong enough to drive it East of New York/Boston...although Cape Cod may get it.

Cape Hatteras should be on the western side...but we will see.
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Quoting katadman:
Just got on the blog. Looks like Dr. Masters is confident that the east coast will avoid a direct hit. What does StormW say?


I'm not StormW, but I will say, respectfully, that Dr. Masters has been continually wrong on Earl's path in all of his blogs
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Top favorite remark from the NHC discussions..

IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT LITTLE OR NOTHING WILL
BE LEFT OF FRANKLIN...THE STORM...NOT THE FORECASTER...IN 2-3 DAYS.




Absolutely hilarious! Sometimes it is necessary to poke a little fun into the forecasts!!!
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Hi, Flood. What do you think the chances are now of a direct CONUS hit? Models and mets are saying no.
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Buoy 41046 - E Bahamas
(2350'8" N 7051'48" W)




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Top favorite remark from the NHC discussions..

IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT LITTLE OR NOTHING WILL
BE LEFT OF FRANKLIN...THE STORM...NOT THE FORECASTER...IN 2-3 DAYS.


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Quoting TexasGulf:


Yes, SouthEast Texas had our annual Burrito Festival last weekend. It should have made it into the upper levels of the atmosphere by now.
;>)




That is the best I have seen all day. Can't believe that DJ didn't jump all over that. LMAO!!!
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If the eye relocates to a more west or south location, would that tend to make Earl go more along the western curve of the cone?
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Quoting katadman:
Just got on the blog. Looks like Dr. Masters is confident that the east coast will avoid a direct hit. What does StormW say?


Hye, brother! Yeah, everyone is in agreement, though they're all hedging bets a bit...the 125-150 mile fudge factor for 48-72 hours is being put into play
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Eye is starting to become a little bit better defined.

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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Good afternoon from pleasant sunny Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands

CRS


Hey, CRS...you keeping dry? I imagine the wind is blowing your hair around a bit...
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Quoting Speeky:
Who thinks 98L may become T.S. Gaston in a few days?


i do
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Looks like WU invaded the yahoo top trends.

The National Hurricane Center is the number 2 trend right now.
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.
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Yo speeky I do
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Thank you Dr. Masters
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Just got on the blog. Looks like Dr. Masters is confident that the east coast will avoid a direct hit. What does StormW say?
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dry air and shear is our friend and to be honest i hope between the both of them and 08L they kill off earl or at least keep him in check
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Who thinks 98L may become T.S. Gaston in a few days?
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OBX got to keep an eye. A single shift 30-50 miles west can change the forecast drastically for them.
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OBX got to keep an eye. A single shift 30-50 miles west can change the forecast drastically for them.
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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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