Hurricane warnings for North Carolina for Category 3 Earl

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:21 PM GMT on September 01, 2010

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Hurricane warnings are flying for the coast of North Carolina, as Hurricane Earl chugs to the northwest at 17 mph. Earl has weakened some over the past day, thanks to an eyewall replacement cycle and some dry air that got wrapped into the core of the storm. Earl's eye made a direct hit on NOAA buoy 41046 at 4am EDT this morning. The buoy recorded a surface pressure of 943 mb, exactly what the Hurricane Hunters were estimating. The buoy measured winds in the eyewall of 76 mph, gusting to 96 mph. The peak winds of Earl were stronger than this, though, since the buoy only reported measurements once per hour, which is not a fine enough resolution to see the peak winds. The buoy is also located at a height of 5 meters, which is less than the standard ten meter height used to do wind measurements, so an additional upward adjustment needs to be made. Peak waves at the buoy were a remarkable 49 feet.

A recent microwave "radar in space" image (Figure 2) shows that dry air has spiraled into the core of Earl, knocking a gap into the southern eyewall. The latest 9am EDT report from the Hurricane Hunters confirmed that the southwest portion of the eyewall was missing. Top winds seen by the Hurricane Hunters were only Category 2 strength, and Earl may be weaker than the stated 125 mph winds in the 11am NHC advisory.


Figure 1. Image of Hurricane Earl taken by astronaut Douglas Wheelock aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010.

>
Figure 2. Microwave "radar in space" image of Hurricane Earl taken at 6:45am EDT Wednesday, September 1, 2010. The southern portion of Earl's eyewall was missing, thanks to a slug of dry air (blue colors) that had spiraled into Earl's core.

Intensity forecast for Earl
Recent satellite loops show that upper level outflow is good to the north and east of Earl, but is poor on the southwest side. The latest SHIPS model forecast shows that this is because upper level winds out of the southwest are creating 15 - 20 knots of wind shear on Earl's southwest side. The winds are from a trough of low pressure to Earl's west. This trough is forecast to weaken and move to the west away from Earl, which should reduce the shear to 10 - 15 knots by Thursday morning. If true, the relaxation in shear may give Earl enough time to mix out the dry air it ingested and regain its previous 135 mph Category 4 intensity. Water vapor satellite loops, though, show there is still plenty of dry air on Earl's west side that could potentially wrap into the storm if there is enough wind shear to drive it into Earl's circulation. Ocean temperatures are still very high, 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. It is likely Earl will be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane at its closest approach to North Carolina Thursday night and Friday morning, with a small chance it will be at Category 4 strength. 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 1 or 2 hurricane on Friday night, when it could potentially make landfall in Massachusetts. Earl is more likely to be a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane on Saturday morning, when it could potentially make landfall in Maine or Nova Scotia, Canada.

Impact of Earl on North Carolina
The latest set of computer models runs from 2am EDT (6Z) this morning are very similar to the previous set of runs. The NOGAPS model brings Earl closest to the coast, predicting the west eyewall of the the hurricane will hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina near 2am Friday. If this track verifies, a period of 40+ mph winds will affect coastal North Carolina for a period of 12 - 18 hours beginning at about 6pm EDT Thursday night. Earl's expected radius of hurricane-force winds of 60 miles to the west will bring hurricane conditions as far west as Morehead City and Elizabeth City in North Carolina. Earl's radius of tropical storm-force winds to the west, over land, will probably be about 150 miles, so locations from Wilmington to Norfolk could see sustained winds of 40 mph in this worst-case model scenario. Storm surge would not be significant along the North Carolina coast facing the open ocean, since winds would be offshore. However, a significant storm surge of 3 - 6 feet could occur in Pamlico Sound, due to strong west to north winds. Coastal Highway 12 out of the Outer Banks would likely be blocked by sand and debris or washed out, resulting in a multi-day period where everyone on the Outer Banks would be stranded. Is is possible that the NOGAPS scenario is not the worst case, and that Earl will strike farther west, resulting in the Outer Banks getting the fearsome maximum winds of the storm's right front quadrant. However, it is more likely that Earl will pass just offshore, resulting in North Carolina receiving the weaker west side winds. Since Earl's forward speed will be about 20 mph at that time, the winds on the hurricane's west side will be about 40 mph less than the right front quadrant on the east side. The NHC wind probability forecast is calling for a 23% chance of hurricane-force winds on Cape Hatteras, 7% for Morehead City, and 3% for Norfolk, Virginia.

Impact of Earl on New England
The NOGAPS model brings Earl closest to the coast of New England, predicting the west eyewall of the the hurricane will pass over Nantucket at about 2am Saturday morning, and the tip of Cape Cod a few hours later. If this track verifies, 40+ mph winds would affect southeastern Massachusetts for a period of 6 - 12 hours beginning at about 8pm EDT Friday night. Earl should be a weaker Category 1 or 2 hurricane then, with hurricane-force winds extending 30 miles to the left of its track. Hurricane conditions would then affect the eastern tip of Long Island, coastal Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts. Earl's radius of tropical storm-force winds to the north, over land, will probably be about 150 miles, so locations from Central Long Island to southern Boston would experience sustained winds of 40 mph in this worst-case model scenario. A storm surge of 3 - 5 feet might occur in Long Island Sound, and 2 - 3 feet along the south coast of Long Island. A deviation to the left, with a direct hit on eastern Long Island and Providence, Rhode Island, would probably be a $10 billion disaster, as the hurricane would hit a heavily populated area and drive a drive a 5 - 10 foot storm surge up Buzzards Bay and Narragansett Bay. The odds of this occurring are around 5%, according to the latest NHC wind probability forecast. The forecast is calling for a 25% chance of hurricane-force winds on Nantucket, 8% in Providence, 6% in Boston, and 18% in Hyannis. Keep in mind that the average error in position for a 3-day NHC forecast is 185 miles, which is about how far offshore Earl is predicted to be from New England early Saturday morning.

Impact of Earl on Canada/Maine
Late morning Saturday, Earl is expected to make landfall somewhere between the Maine/New Brunswick border and central Nova Scotia. At that time, Earl should be a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane. This won't be another Hurricane Juan, the 2003 Category 2 hurricane which made a direct hit on Halifax, Nova Scotia, causing over $200 million in damage. Earl's impact is likely to be closer to 2008's Hurricane Kyle, which hit near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. Kyle produced a storm surge of 2.6 feet, and did $9 million in damage to Canada. The NHC wind probability forecast is calling for a 29% chance of hurricane-force winds in Yarmouth, 24% in Halifax, and 17% in Eastport, Maine.

Beach erosion
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. Beach erosion damage in the mid-Atlantic states will likely run into the millions, but will probably not be as bad as that suffered during Nor'easter Ida in November of 2009. That storm (the remains of Hurricane Ida that developed into a Nor'easter) remained off the coast for several days, resulting in a long-duration pounding of the shore that caused $300 million in damage--$180 million in New Jersey alone.

Record ocean temperatures off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coast
The period May - July was the hottest such 3-month period in history for the Northeast and Southeast U.S., according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Most of the hurricane-prone states along the coast, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina had their hottest May - July in the 116-year record. These record air temperatures led to record ocean temperatures, according to an analysis I did of monthly average 5x5 degree SST data available from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.. The region of ocean bounded by 35N - 40N, 75W - 70W, which goes from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Central New Jersey, had the warmest July ocean temperatures since records began in 1875--a remarkable 2.12°C (3.8°F) above average. The year 2008 was a distant second place, with temperatures 1.5°C (2.7°F) above average. The ocean region off the Southeast U.S. coast, bounded by 30N - 35N, 80W - 75W, from the Georgia-Florida border to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, had its 4th warmest July ocean temperatures on record. Temperatures were 0.8°C (1.4°F) above average, which fell short of the record 1.1°C anomaly of 1944. The August numbers are not available yet, but will probably show a similar story.

All this warm water off the East Coast means it is much easier for a major hurricane to make landfall in the mid-Atlantic or Northeast U.S. Usually, ocean temperatures fall below the 26.5°C threshold needed to support a hurricane as soon as a storm pushes north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This year, those temperatures extend all the way to the New Jersey coast (Figure 3.) Such warm ocean temperatures increase the odds of a major hurricane making it to the mid-Atlantic or New England coasts. Since record keeping began in 1851, there have been only 15 major hurricane in U.S. coastal waters north of the North Carolina/Virgina border--about one per decade. The last such storm was Hurricane Alex of August 6, 2004.


Figure 3. Water surface temperatures from AVHRR satellite data for the 6-day period ending August 31, 2010. Ocean temperatures of 26.5°C, capable of supporting a hurricane, stretched almost to Long Island, New York. Image credit: Ocean Remote Sensing Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Fiona
Tropical Storm Fiona last night showed us why hurricane forecasting is such a difficult job. The storm made an unexpected slow-down in forward speed. This slow-down resulted in less wind shear affecting Fiona than expected, since the storm is farther from the upper-level outflow of Hurricane Earl. The wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group shows just a moderate 10 - 20 knots of shear affecting Fiona, which is low enough that the storm has been able to organize into a respectable 60 mph tropical storm. Martinique radar shows that the outer bands from Fiona are bringing heavy rain squalls to the same islands of the northern Lesser Antilles that were affected by Earl. Our wundermap shows that winds in the islands are all below 20 mph, but winds will increase to 30 - 40 mph later today as Fiona draws closer. Satellite loops show that heavy thunderstorm activity has decreased some in recent hours. This may be due to the fact that Fiona is currently crossing the cold water wake of Earl.

Forecast for Fiona
In the short term, moderate wind shear and dry air should keep Fiona from attaining hurricane status, though we do have several models that predict it could become a Category 1 hurricane. Fiona is likely to come close enough to Bermuda on Saturday or Sunday to pose a threat to that island, though it is possible high wind shear from Earl could kill the storm by then. The long term fate of Fiona remains unclear, with some models calling for dissipation this weekend, and other models calling for Fiona to be left behind by Earl to wander over the ocean near Bermuda early next week.


Figure 4. Morning radar image of Fiona from the Martinique radar. Image credit: Meteo France.

TD 9
Invest 98L gained enough heavy thunderstorm activity to be classified as Tropical Depression Nine this morning. This wil probably be Tropical Storm Gaston by tomorrow morning. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts shear will remain moderate, 10 - 15 knots, for the next five days, and TD 9 could be a Category 1 hurricane five days from now, as predicted by the GFDL model. The storm will likely pose a threat to the northern Lesser Antilles Islands by Tuesday.

Next post
I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Swells here on the Georgia coast are definitely present, but still not very high, between 3.5 and 4 feet. They should double in height tomorrow. Earl only 650 miles away from me, and looking the 'prettiest' he has ever been. If he ramps up to Cat 4 this evening, we may get swells averaging 10 feet tomorrow afternoon!



SSIGuy- we're planning to visit Ossabaw Isl. on Saturday- what kind of water conditions could we see b/c of earl?
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“No one's slick as Gaston
No one's quick as Gaston
No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston's
For there's no man in town half as manly
Perfect, a pure paragon!
You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley
And they'll tell you whose team they prefer to be on!”
Member Since: July 31, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 357
Quoting Tazmanian:
they sould at lest put a hurricane watch or a TS watch for the E coast of FL


Why???
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Quoting Jeff9641:
A bust season. hmmmm 7 3 2 not bad for a quite Atlantic Basin thru 9/10. By 9/10 we may very well be at 9 5 4.

Hi Jeff what do you think about Gaston, any thoughts on where it might head?
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Quoting LongBeachNY:



SWWWWWEEEEEEETTTT im going to Florida next week!!!

And I live on A barrier island on Long Island...

Earl and Gaston for me!


I hope you get exactly what you wish for, but only you. The good people of Florida know what it's like to live in the aftermath of a storm.
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Quoting Patrap:


Rest NOW and be ready to move in the am,,one dosent want to be weary on the road as anxiety leads to bad decision making


Roger that, Patrap. Go bags are packed just in case it veers left towards VaBeach. Back road maps planned out, and I can get 100 miles NW in 2.5 hours or so without resorting to the interstate. I son't think we will have to leave, but I can get out the door in 15 minutes if need be. If I don't have to leave, well, I can iron those shirts again, no problem!
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The only model I'd give some credit right now is the CMC on TD#9. It is the only one that even tried to develop it before the GFS and ECMWF. I doubt the NHC will follow the ECMWF track.
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Quoting Patrap:


its filtered almost all the dry air out pat, this morning alot of blue shading in the storm
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6703
1012. will40
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Take care Will. I hope he misses you and everyone else.


tyvm Stef i still got dem shields you sent up :-)
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Hey NE Wishcasters, lets not get carried away here. Keep in mind the fact that Earl will be crossing over very cool SSTs approaching Long Island & Cape Cod. We're talking very low 20's & below. These temps & land interaction will not be a good recipe for a Cat3 @ these latitudes.
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Quoting FloridaHeat:
its getting hard to tell who is credible and who is just a troll on the blog now the credible people are all starting to sound very concerned now to

that should tell you something - when the credible people are becoming concerned, there is a reason. time is starting to run low if you're going to get safely out of the way.

go back and read patrap's message. assuming that you're ready to move, rest now, check in early a.m. and get moving before other folks wake up.
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Quoting will40:


thanks Pat i will get a good nap this afternoon


Take care Will. I hope he misses you and everyone else.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
1006. JeffM
Is Earl at 929mb right now?
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1005. Gearsts
Now all models are taking Gaston towards PR?
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1004. 900MB
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Earl's center moved 56 miles between 11 am and 2 pm, an average rate of 19 mph. Between 8 am and 11 am, Earl moved 52 mph, an average speed of 17 mph.


He is picking up steam, another not so good development. That and the curve North being delayed until tomorrow.
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1002. will40
Quoting CoopsWife:


Will40 - where are you located?


Emerale Isle NC Carteret county
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1001. Thaale
More NW motion by Gaston day 10 on the ECMWF as the Azores high contracts. Probably leading to early recurve if this verifies - but none of the other models see this.
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Quoting NASA101:
12Z GFS, GFDL, and HWRF are all predicting Hurricane Gaston or close to it approaching PR and going WEST!!
Early days but sounds like BIG trouble!!



SWWWWWEEEEEEETTTT im going to Florida next week!!!

And I live on A barrier island on Long Island...

Earl and Gaston for me!
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Quoting Cotillion:
AL, 09, 2010090118, , BEST, 0, 128N, 362W, 35, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 60, 0, 0, 60, 1011, 225, 45, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, NINE, S,


Geez.
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Quoting Cotillion:
Gaston is born.
Quoting Cotillion:
Gaston is born.
???
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Swells here on the Georgia coast are definitely present, but still not very high, between 3.5 and 4 feet. They should double in height tomorrow. Earl only 650 miles away from me, and looking the 'prettiest' he has ever been. If he ramps up to Cat 4 this evening, we may get swells averaging 10 feet tomorrow afternoon!


What is the current pressure?
Member Since: June 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1115
Quoting breald:


So it has nothing to do with the trof? Thanks


Well, the timing of the trof and such play into this, but I think the big factor here is geography.
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Quoting will40:


thanks Pat i will get a good nap this afternoon


Will40 - where are you located?
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I wanted to correct some info someone put out earlier in regards to Va. Beach activating their first responders. Not true. I am a VaB police officer who just got off duty. They have had meetings etc but nothing yet.

Actually that is a problem I'm having now, there is little or no info coming out. The news is not really talking about it, there is none of the usual hype like we see with most storms. That is what makes me nervous, that in 24 hours the models shift 100 miles west putting us on the edge and suddenly evacuations are ordered for a city that with tourist right now probably numbers about 500-600,000 people that is only 36 hours from dealing with this.

The watch is good but I wonder if we'll see a warning. They must be reallllll confident in it being turned ne before it gets to us.

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Quoting Cotillion:
Gaston is born.
Quoting Cotillion:
AL, 09, 2010090118, , BEST, 0, 128N, 362W, 35, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 60, 0, 0, 60, 1011, 225, 45, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, NINE, S,

We were on the D storm on August 22 and we're already at the G storm on September 1. Crazy things have been going on.
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I'm really worried about Earl's potential for intensification...

Do y'all remember what Katrina did? It is still one of the most incredible satellite loops I've ever seen... there she was, chugging along... hit that warm eddy, then POW! that massive, PERFECT eye appeared and the US was facing a Cat 5 barreling towards us...

I'm not so worried about Earl being a Cat 5, but if he DOES tap the Gulf Stream on his way to my back yard, I'm gonna be up the big brown creek without a paddle...

oh bother...
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Hey, it looks like the light showers in South Florida (south of Miami) are partly related to Earl's circulation. Probably an interaction between Earl and the low over the Gulf, but comparing satellite and radar that seems to be what is happening.

Earl is a big storm, much bigger than the cloud shield.
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Quoting klaatuborada:



That's my problem. My husband doesn't get it. He thought Bob was just a "little wind and rain, so we lost power". I've tried to explain storm surge, but he looks at me like I've asked him to ask for directions.


I feel for ya. Hope you can get him to move out when he needs to. Especially if you're in a surge area. We aren't officially in a storm surge area here. But Ike drowned a lot of the county anyway. Yeah I did finally get him to go but...We drove around Lufkin in circles FOREVER before I finally got him to stop and ask directions! UGH! Lol. What is up with that?
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
Quoting Patrap:


Rest NOW and be ready to move in the am,,one dosent want to be weary on the road as anxiety leads to bad decision making


thanks Pat i will get a good nap this afternoon
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Quoting angiest:


SC is on the convex part of the coast and is relatively far west. If SC were as far east as NC it might be a different matter.


So it has nothing to do with the trof? Thanks
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985. IKE
LATCUR = 12.8N LONCUR = 36.2W DIRCUR = 280DEG SPDCUR = 14KT...at least it's moving north of west.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129780
AL, 09, 2010090118, , BEST, 0, 128N, 362W, 35, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 60, 0, 0, 60, 1011, 225, 45, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, NINE, S,
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Gaston is born.
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Quoting FloridaHeat:
its getting hard to tell who is credible and who is just a troll on the blog now the credible people are all starting to sound very concerned now to


just wait school is turning out now it gonna get worse
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Hang on....

000
WHXX01 KWBC 011858
CHGHUR
TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1858 UTC WED SEP 1 2010

DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.
PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE
AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.

ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR

TROPICAL CYCLONE NINE (AL092010) 20100901 1800 UTC

...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...
100901 1800 100902 0600 100902 1800 100903 0600

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 12.8N 36.2W 13.0N 38.1W 13.3N 39.8W 13.6N 41.5W
BAMD 12.8N 36.2W 13.3N 38.0W 13.8N 39.2W 14.4N 40.5W
BAMM 12.8N 36.2W 13.2N 38.1W 13.6N 39.5W 14.0N 40.8W
LBAR 12.8N 36.2W 13.3N 38.4W 13.8N 40.6W 14.6N 42.7W
SHIP 35KTS 43KTS 51KTS 57KTS
DSHP 35KTS 43KTS 51KTS 57KTS

...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...
100903 1800 100904 1800 100905 1800 100906 1800

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 14.2N 43.3W 15.2N 47.4W 16.0N 52.5W 16.2N 58.1W
BAMD 15.3N 42.3W 17.0N 46.9W 18.3N 52.7W 19.0N 59.4W
BAMM 14.6N 42.6W 16.0N 46.8W 16.8N 51.9W 16.8N 58.0W
LBAR 15.6N 44.7W 18.5N 48.7W 22.0N 52.5W 24.9N 54.7W
SHIP 63KTS 76KTS 83KTS 89KTS
DSHP 63KTS 76KTS 83KTS 89KTS

...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 12.8N LONCUR = 36.2W DIRCUR = 280DEG SPDCUR = 14KT
LATM12 = 12.5N LONM12 = 33.5W DIRM12 = 282DEG SPDM12 = 14KT
LATM24 = 11.8N LONM24 = 30.8W
WNDCUR = 35KT RMAXWD = 45NM WNDM12 = 25KT
CENPRS = 1005MB OUTPRS = 1011MB OUTRAD = 225NM SDEPTH = S
RD34NE = 60NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 60NM

$$

????
NNNN
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Quoting IKE:
216 hr. 12Z ECMWF...here fishie, fishie?



HAHA, IKE you crack me up man with your Fish comments! Euro had Fiona a cat4 hurricane in the Gulf at 240 hours few days ago!! No models are trusted that far out! However, I like the consensus between, 12 GFS, GFDL & HWRF which put GAston is the same vicinity as a hurricane around the islands (PR) barreling westwards!!
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Quoting breald:
Bryan Norcross was just on TWC talking about the storm and said he is very concerned about the impact of this storm for New England. He said the because the high pressure is so strong it may curve the trof negatively. We shall see.

I do have a question about that. If this trof is what is keeping this from hitting SC why isn't it keeping it from getting close to NC on up?



SC is on the convex part of the coast and is relatively far west. If SC were as far east as NC it might be a different matter.
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probably back to 135mph
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9685
Quoting will40:
well i will be up all nite on this one. Tomorrow morn wont be too late to get the heck out of dodge


Rest NOW and be ready to move in the am,,one dosent want to be weary on the road as anxiety leads to bad decision making
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129780
973. IKE
Complete 12Z ECMWF through 240 hours...keeps Earl just offshore NC...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860

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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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