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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Heard that they had announced them, but wasn't paying attention... I think it was CNN.
Quoting truecajun:


do you think they are going to have mandatory evacuations for some of the east coasters due to surge?
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Quoting will40:


they have already started up here on the OBX, they start with nonresidents first


that's good to hear
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Quoting will40:


yea i remember that also. Someone even said they believed it was photoshoped


Ah, okay. Sorry. We call that whole area 'Galveston'. Yes, I think the house did have a blue roof. It had been built to hurricane standards I think, the only one that had been and the only one to make it through the storm.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3115
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yes, environmental conditions usually are almost perfect when they are able to yield a category 5 hurricane, but not only doesn't the environment have to be absolutely perfect, but every category 5 hurricane doesn't have to look perfect either to be a category 5. Case and point, Emily of 2005 at peak intensity as a category 5, didn't look too beautiful huh?

Sure looks like a pretty eye to me. Appears to have a very nice stadium to play in.
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1415. amd
Quoting Jedkins01:
Earls convection is looking rather weak right now, almost as if its moving over cooler waters, which of course it is not, but it has that same appearance of a hurricane moving over cooler water.

Maybe its cause Earl has moved into that very very dry air mass? All I know is it sure doesn't look like a category 4 anymore, I'm surprised its still holding onto 4 status, when it looks more like a 2.

Its funny cause yesterday it looked like nearly a category 5 at one point, yet somehow Earl was the same intensity then as now.


Go figure! There is so much more to learn still about these danged things!


I haven't had much chance to follow Earl today, but I did look at some of the vortex messages from recon, and they showed that the core was very warm (8-12 degree Celsius difference between eye temperature and temperature outside of eye). Even though Earl did not look the part, maybe the extremely warm eye suggested that the core itself of Earl was still able to keep winds at cat 4 levels.

I'll be interested to see if the stark differences in temperature between the eye and outside the eye still exists when the next recon arrives.
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Quoting truecajun:


do you think they are going to have mandatory evacuations for some of the east coasters due to surge?
I would hope on the coast. And some of the back bays. They do have bayous like us(Paris Island). But if they are inland they will have to deal with wind, not water like we do 20 miles inland.
Member Since: August 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 895
1413. will40
Quoting truecajun:


do you think they are going to have mandatory evacuations for some of the east coasters due to surge?


they have already started up here on the OBX, they start with nonresidents first
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4111
This blog does not use very sophisticated or even moderate forum software like some of you may be used too. Therefore more users may have problems at times with videos and stretching of the blog. Since this mostly is a free site this is what you get. Switch browsers or look for tech help elsewhere...we have a major storm tending west day by day and bit by bit . And as each hour goes by threatens a highly populated portion of the US. Please email wunderground support or whatever its called for any help. Hopefully we can get back to tropical discussion, my two cents.
Member Since: September 12, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 48
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!
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Quoting PcolaDan:


I went through that with Opal. Tornado went right in front of us on I10. Lesson learned: never evacuate EAST of the eye. DOH!

Oh, and p.s. leave earlier :)


scary! that's what scares me the most with canes is the possibility of a tornado sneaking up. teh water and wind are expected and prepared for. the tornadoes are not.
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From the Hurricane Hunters:


"EARL IS A LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UPTO 90 MILES...150 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 200 MILES." Parts of North Carolina and Virginia are now under a Hurricane Watch.
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Quoting traumaboyy:


IVAN was terrible even over here around Marianna!! The Tornadoes were amazing.....and terrifying!!


Remember it well. Fatalities in PCB,Calhoun/Liberty County and a tornado that hit the prison across from the Marianna Airport. It was amazing to watch the train of tornado's come off the GOM onto land. Looked like a video game.
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Quoting Floodman:


No, Galveston was NOT destroyed by Ike; the area you're thinking of was the Bolivar peninsula...the Bolivar is east of Galveston across the channel. The house you're thinking of was in a little town at the mid point of the peninsula...it was a two story with a blue roof, as I recall

And even that house was declared structurally unsound.

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Made my 3rd run on Earl just now.. Just a reminder that the light orange skinny line is the outliers of how far Earl can go, orange track is pretty much a "possible path", the big red line is my forecast and what I believe is the more likely scenario. It all depends on how fast Earl can go, can he beat the trough?

Photobucket
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Quoting MrstormX:
I have bad feeling about 98L... not sure why


I understand you. After all, tomorrow is september 1st, and 98L is travelling over warm waters...
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Quoting Floodman:


What direction was the wind blowing when the 22-28 feet of surge hit Waveland in 2005?


NW, was it not?
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Quoting Floodman:


No, Galveston was NOT destroyed by Ike; the area you're thinking of was the Bolivar peninsula...the Bolivar is east of Galveston across the channel. The house you're thinking of was in a little town at the mid point of the peninsula...it was a two story with a blue roof, as I recall


Yep, Galveston was odd, some structures were flooded with 8 feet and many barely an inch. I stayed at Scholes Air field for recovery which had about 8 foot. Some pics in my WU photo log.
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Quoting doorman79:


When you have water being pushed by 120 plus wind it will find the lowest places after it stacks up against any barrier. Its simple hydrology.


do you think they are going to have mandatory evacuations for some of the east coasters due to surge?
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1401. will40
Quoting Floodman:


No, Galveston was NOT destroyed by Ike; the area you're thinking of was the Bolivar peninsula...the Bolivar is east of Galveston across the channel. The house you're thinking of was in a little town at the mid point of the peninsula...it was a two story with a blue roof, as I recall


yea i remember that also. Someone even said they believed it was photoshoped
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4111
Quoting ElConando:
Orca I looked at post 10...

You are my kinda of guy, in the most masculine way of course.


First time I saw it.. was drinking my morning coffee... bad idea.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting rarepearldesign:


Track over us in Halifax, NS has the timing about dead on now to high tide (4-6 PM AST depending on exact location of coast).


True, but it's going to be a neap tide, due to the phase of the Moon. Not good (if that timing holds true) but it would be worse if it was a spring tide.
Meanwhile, Earl appears to be shifting east in the most recent forecasts. Not out of the woods yet, of course.
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Quoting leo305:


I disagree, it never looked like a CAT 5, a CAT 5 is almost a perfect hurricane in terms of appearence, perfect eye, completely clear and void of any clouds, pressure really really low, perfect outflow.

Earl had nice outflow all around, but it was clearly being limited by shear sorrounding it.

Dry air is definately hurting it now though
Yes, environmental conditions usually are almost perfect when they are able to yield a category 5 hurricane, but not only doesn't the environment have to be absolutely perfect, but every category 5 hurricane doesn't have to look perfect either to be a category 5. Case and point, Emily of 2005 at peak intensity as a category 5, didn't look too 'perfect' huh?

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting PcolaDan:


I went through that with Opal. Tornado went right in front of us on I10. Lesson learned: never evacuate EAST of the eye. DOH!

Oh, and p.s. leave earlier :)


Opal did come in on afterburners....surprised everyone....I worked in Marianna at the time and live 18 miles east of there.....as you know I 10 goes through Marianna....it was a standstill. I went home on back roads....took my aunt two an a half hours to get from Marianna to Grand Ridge Exit....10 Miles!!
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Photobucket


From the 11:00 discussion:

The track has been wobbling as is typical of intense hurricanes but
the mean motion over the past 6 hours is about 310/13. There has
been little change to the NHC forecast track or reasoning. Earl is
expected to gradually turn to the right as it moves around the
western periphery of a mid-level subtropical anticyclone for the
next couple of days. Afterwards...a vigorous mid-latitude trough
at 500 mb will approach the East Coast and should cause the
hurricane to turn toward the north-northeast. Of course...the
timing of this turn is critical in determining how close the center
will come to the U.S. East Coast. One should not focus on the
exact forecast track because of forecast uncertainty...and also
because Earl is a large hurricane and significant impacts can be
well removed from the center.




Earl is moving (with some consistency) fairly nwest at about 15 mph. I'm thinking he's gonna slow down with the high out in front of him. "DAY 4" as "extratropical?" Then eventually he's gonna have to speed up? When? When the trough breaks down the considerable high pressure? Sorry, still not buying it, and I believe Earl will come considerably close to making landfall; and, if it doesn't, impact will still be significant.
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Orca I looked at post 10...

You are my kinda of guy, in the most masculine way of course.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


Or have them look at the pictures of Galveston after Ike. If I remember correctly, there was one house still standing.

Actually that was from Gilchrist, TX, which is on Bolivar Peninsula. Same concept though.
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METEO FRANCE radar : Heavy rains of Fiona
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Quoting Floodman:


The back bays can be the worst, as the channels tend to narrow and then shallow somewhat, forcing the water higher and higher and with far greater force

When you have water being pushed by 120 plus wind it will find the lowest places after it stacks up against any barrier. Its simple hydrology.
Member Since: August 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 895
I have bad feeling about 98L... not sure why
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


Or have them look at the pictures of Galveston after Ike. If I remember correctly, there was one house still standing.


No, Galveston was NOT destroyed by Ike; the area you're thinking of was the Bolivar peninsula...the Bolivar is east of Galveston across the channel. The house you're thinking of was in a little town at the mid point of the peninsula...it was a two story with a blue roof, as I recall
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting traumaboyy:


IVAN was terrible even over here around Marianna!! The Tornadoes were amazing.....and terrifying!!


I went through that with Opal. Tornado went right in front of us on I10. Lesson learned: never evacuate EAST of the eye. DOH!

Oh, and p.s. leave earlier :)
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Exactly!
Quoting Floodman:


The back bays can be the worst, as the channels tend to narrow and then shallow somewhat, forcing the water higher and higher and with far greater force
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Quoting will40:


lololol dokey okey


i did find it odd that some of the troll characters on here could post images. many don't seem like the type to pay money just to stir up trouble. now i understand that they don't ante up
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Hi all....

Ivan was evil - we had water over our seawall on the bayou in N'ville.

Water - is the scariest part of a 'cane... especially one the size of Earl. East Coasters be safe, run from the water.
Quoting PcolaDan:


Even being on the west side can create havoc. Ivan tore up the south side of Pensacola Beach when we were on the right side. The next year Dennis hit east of us and took out the north side of the island, pulling the surge water from the Bay.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Or, a simple change in the options consists of "Ask me where to download files to".


Thanks, I forgot they were going there and the file is really full of stuff I don't have any use for...LOL
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1383. EtexJC
Quoting Xyrus2000:


Hey, don't knock Kenny. :D


Unless i wanted a death wish no thank you!
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1382. leo305
Quoting Jedkins01:
Earls convection is looking rather weak right now, almost as if its moving over cooler waters, which of course it is not, but it has that same appearance of a hurricane moving over cooler water.

Maybe its cause Earl has moved into that very very dry air mass? All I know is it sure doesn't look like a category 4 anymore, I'm surprised its still holding onto 4 status, when it looks more like a 2.

Its funny cause yesterday it looked like nearly a category 5 at one point, yet somehow Earl was the same intensity then as now.


Go figure! There is so much more to learn still about these danged things!


I disagree, it never looked like a CAT 5, a CAT 5 is almost a perfect hurricane in terms of appearence, perfect eye, completely clear and void of any clouds, pressure really really low, perfect outflow.

Earl had nice outflow all around, but it was clearly being limited by shear sorrounding it.

Dry air is definately hurting it now though
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Quoting Floodman:


I got into an argument with a couple of people about the height of storm surge in that area. I said 20 feet just now as just a number; the highest scouring I could find in trees in the Pass Christian, Waveland and back bay at Bay St Louis was 27'7" (measured myself); NOAA says the maximum surge was 22' (or thereabouts)...you're talking to someone who agrees with you; I was there


lol, all the homes I inspected in the area were 100% submerged except for 1 that was a two story on 16 foot stilts, high water mark was in the 2nd floor (3 stories up).
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Even being on the west side can create havoc. Ivan tore up the south side of Pensacola Beach when we were on the right side. The next year Dennis hit east of us and took out the north side of the island, pulling the surge water from the Bay.


The back bays can be the worst, as the channels tend to narrow and then shallow somewhat, forcing the water higher and higher and with far greater force
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
1378. JP2010
The bridge near Waveland had a watermark at 31 foot above sea level.
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Quoting EtexJC:


thanks kenpachi-senpai, LOL


Hey, don't knock Kenny. :D
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Quoting cheaterwon:
It looks like earl is turning into an asymmetric hurricane with that big eye wall that is forming on the IR on the wundermap. It is even starting to look like a big truck tire and the air is starting to leave the center of the large eye. I am an amateur so is there any possibility of that even happening? Thanks for everybody that responds.
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1375. luigi18
Quoting EtexJC:


thanks kenpachi-senpai, LOL


agree she is going her way too
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1374. will40
Quoting truecajun:


oh. LOL! well i guess i just assumed because i never figured it out.


lololol dokey okey
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4111
000
WTNT42 KNHC 010248
TCDAT2
HURRICANE EARL DISCUSSION NUMBER 27
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072010
1100 PM AST TUE AUG 31 2010

EARL REMAINS A WELL-ORGANIZED HURRICANE ON SATELLITE IMAGES. AN EYE
OF ABOUT 20 N MI IN DIAMETER IS EVIDENT ON THE INFRARED IMAGES...
AND THE UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW IS WELL-DEFINED OVER ALL BUT THE
SOUTHWEST PART OF THE CIRCULATION...AS CONFIRMED BY SURVELLIANCE
DATA FROM THE NOAA G-IV JET THIS EVENING. THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS
KEPT AT 115 KT BASED ON A DVORAK ESTIMATE FROM TAFB. THERE IS
CURRENTLY ABOUT 20 KT OF SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR OVER EARL AS DEPICTED
BY UW-CIMSS ANALYSES. THIS SHEAR SHOULD LESSEN AS AN UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGH...JUST TO THE WEST AND NORTHWEST OF THE HURRICANE...IS
PREDICTED BY THE GLOBAL MODELS TO SHIFT WESTWARD OVER THE NEXT DAY
OR SO. THIS EVOLUTION OF THE UPPER-LEVEL ENVIRONMENT SHOULD ALLOW
EARL TO MORE OR LESS MAINTAIN ITS INTENSITY FOR ABOUT THE NEXT 36
HOURS. THE NHC INTENSITY FORECAST IS ONLY A LITTLE ABOVE THE
STATISTICAL/DYNAMICAL LGEM GUIDANCE AND A LITTLE BELOW THE GFDL
HURRICANE MODEL GUIDANCE. BY DAY 4...GLOBAL MODELS SHOW EARL
BECOME EMBEDDED WITHIN A BAROCLINIC ZONE WITH WELL-DEFINED THERMAL
ADVECTION SO EXTRATROPICAL TRANSITION SHOULD HAVE OCCURRED BY THAT
TIME.

THE TRACK HAS BEEN WOBBLING AS IS TYPICAL OF INTENSE HURRICANES BUT
THE MEAN MOTION OVER THE PAST 6 HOURS IS ABOUT 310/13. THERE HAS
BEEN LITTLE CHANGE TO THE NHC FORECAST TRACK OR REASONING. EARL IS
EXPECTED TO GRADUALLY TURN TO THE RIGHT AS IT MOVES AROUND THE
WESTERN PERIPHERY OF A MID-LEVEL SUBTROPICAL ANTICYCLONE FOR THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. AFTERWARDS...A VIGOROUS MID-LATITUDE TROUGH
AT 500 MB WILL APPROACH THE EAST COAST AND SHOULD CAUSE THE
HURRICANE TO TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHEAST. OF COURSE...THE
TIMING OF THIS TURN IS CRITICAL IN DETERMINING HOW CLOSE THE CENTER
WILL COME TO THE U.S. EAST COAST. ONE SHOULD NOT FOCUS ON THE
EXACT FORECAST TRACK BECAUSE OF FORECAST UNCERTAINTY...AND ALSO
BECAUSE EARL IS A LARGE HURRICANE AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS CAN BE
WELL REMOVED FROM THE CENTER.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 01/0300Z 23.0N 69.9W 115 KT
12HR VT 01/1200Z 24.5N 71.6W 115 KT
24HR VT 02/0000Z 27.0N 73.5W 115 KT
36HR VT 02/1200Z 29.8N 75.0W 115 KT
48HR VT 03/0000Z 32.7N 75.2W 110 KT
72HR VT 04/0000Z 39.0N 70.5W 90 KT
96HR VT 05/0000Z 47.0N 62.0W 75 KT...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP
120HR VT 06/0000Z 56.0N 58.0W 50 KT...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP

$$
FORECASTER PASCH/KIMBERLAIN
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Even being on the west side can create havoc. Ivan tore up the south side of Pensacola Beach when we were on the right side. The next year Dennis hit east of us and took out the north side of the island, pulling the surge water from the Bay.


Wind is one thing, but wind driven water is 3 fold. Thats the beast that man can't stop.
Member Since: August 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 895

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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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