Earl a Category 4 storm again

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:23 PM GMT on September 01, 2010

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Hurricane Earl has regained Category 4 strength this afternoon, and continues on a steady northwest path towards the North Carolina coast. Recent satellite imagery shows that Earl has become more symmetrical, with improved upper-level outflow and no signs of dry air wrapping into the core. The improved appearance is probably due to lower wind shear. Latest wind shear tendency imagery from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group shows that shear on the southwest side of Earl has fallen by about 10 knots over the past 24 hours.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Earl.

Forecast for Earl
The latest set of model runs from 8am EDT (12Z) this morning shows little change to Earl's track. Thus, my write-up of the possible impacts to North Carolina, New England, and Canada in this morning's post remain unchanged. The latest SHIPS model forecast shows wind shear will remain moderate, about 15 knots, through Friday afternoon. This should allow Earl to maintain major hurricane status as it passes North Carolina early Friday morning. By Friday night, as Earl gets caught in the jet stream and accelerates to the northeast, wind shear will rise to 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 early Saturday morning, when it will make its closest approach to New England. Earl is more likely to be a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane early Saturday afternoon, when it is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Earl is a large hurricane, which gives it a higher potential for storm surge damage than a smaller hurricane with the same top winds. One measure of a storm's power, useful for gauging storm surge threat, is to measure the speed of the winds and multiply by the area over which those winds blow. This total is called the Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE). Based on the storm's IKE, one can come up with a scale from 0 - 6 rating the storm's destructive power from its storm surge. A separate rating can be given to the destructive potential of the storm's winds. The IKE value of 112 Terrajoules for Earl, at 3:30pm EDT today, gives its storm surge a destructive power of 5.0 on a scale of 0 - 6. Earl's winds have a lower destructive power, 3.4 on a scale of 0 - 6. Let's hope the right front quadrant of Earl, where the main storm surge would occur, stays offshore! For comparison, the small Category 5 Hurricane Camille of 1969 had an IKE of 80 Terrajoules, and the very large Category 2 Hurricane Ike of 2008 had an IKE of 116 Terrajoules--similar to Category 3 Earl's.

Fiona
Tropical Storm Fiona is struggling due to high wind shear, courtesy of strong upper-level northerly winds from Hurricane Earl's outflow. The latest Hurricane Hunter center fix at 1:29pm EDT found Fiona had weakened some, with a central pressure of 999 mb. This is a rise of 1 mb from this morning. The wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group shows that shear has increased to a moderately high 15 - 20 knots this afternoon. Satellite loops show the classic signature of a tropical storm experiencing high wind shear--an exposed center of circulation, and all the heavy thunderstorms pushed to one side (the south side in this case). 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 for the northern Lesser Antilles shows no stations recorded winds over 20 mph this afternoon, though there was no reporting station on Barbuda, the island closest to Fiona.

Forecast for Fiona
Moderate wind shear and dry air should keep Fiona from attaining hurricane status over the next two days, as big brother Earl continues to bring high wind shear. The shear may be strong enough to destroy Fiona, as predicted by the NHC. However, by this weekend, Earl may pull far enough away for shear to drop and Fiona to survive. The 4 - 5 day track forecast is highly uncertain, as there is a large spread in the model solutions. It is possible Fiona may pose a threat to Bermuda on Saturday or Sunday, and the storm could wander for a week or more in the waters between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.


Figure 2. Afternoon satellite image of Fiona.

Tropical Storm Gaston forms
Tropical Storm Gaston developed enough heavy thunderstorms near its center this afternoon to get a name, and appears destined to become Hurricane Gaston by early next week. Water vapor satellite images show a large area of dry air to the north and west of Gaston, and this dry air will be the dominant inhibiting factor for development. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts shear will remain moderate, 10 - 15 knots, for the next four days, and perhaps fall to the low range 4 - 5 days from now. Gaston is over warm 28°C waters, and should be able to steadily intensify into a hurricane by Saturday or Sunday, as predicted by the many of the intensity models. Gaston may threaten the northern Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Tuesday.

Next post
I'll have an update in the morning, and Dr. Rob Carver will have a late night update tonight.

Jeff Masters

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1806. Dunkman
Evacuation for Bogue Banks NC (Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, etc.) beginning at 5am tomorrow morning.
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I hate that the 11 PM advisory comes at 11:45 PM. Why not call it 11:45 advisory?
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Quoting VBgirl:
No damsel in distress here believe me. If mandatory evacs are ordered I'm going. We are just about packed. And judging from the pressure drop and sattelite presentation of the storm, plus the fact it seems to be wobbling west, I would imagine first thing tomorrow we will be in the long snaking line of traffic trying to get out of here. But again, there is a part of me that would like to stay but I also don't swim that well and like being alive. So...I will leave if they tell me too. But I stayed here through Isabel and Emily and was in Charleston when Hugo hit. So I do have a hearty respect for hurricanes and Earl is looking like Hugo who scared the hell out of me. So we will leave if told to.

Good that you are considering to go... but I would be leaving now. Not waiting for the mandatory evac that you know is coming.

(look at Galveston with Ike... Galveston's mayor waited WAY too long to order the mandatory evac, and several people died because of it)
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1803. angiest
Quoting MrstormX:
Has anyone put the big "A WORD" out there yet...

Earl has possibly gone Annular!


Been debating that all night.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
The GOES-15 from RAMSDIS updates every 10 minutes...sometimes even less:

Link
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Quoting VBgirl:
I'm in Kill Devil Hills on vacation at parents beach house. There is a part of me that really, really wants to stay. Not leaving unless they evacuate residents. We are between the beach road and the bypass.


Don't even think about staying if the roads can flood quickly and strand you there. I've been thru lots of these storms and they are nothing to play with.
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Quoting kmanislander:
We have the serrated outer edge that is typical of a Cat 5 but not the completely smooth circular exterior base for the "teeth". Notice the uneven outer fringe of the Eastern quad

Getting close but I suspect no cigar.

Very interesting Kman! The eastern quadrant is the only part consisting of that serrated type edge, let's see how it evolves...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Remember Earl was 135 mph when he was 931 mb before. But I suspect the winds will be 145 mph in the 11 pm advisory.



they could go higher
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Quoting staffofthegods:
I'm shocked we're having to wait until 11PM for an advisory. I will be equally shocked if the wind speed hasn't ramped up by at least 10 mph.


They probably need every extra minute they can to figure out what this BIG boy is going to finally do!
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Quoting MrstormX:
Has anyone put the big "A WORD" out there yet...

Earl has possibly gone Annular!


Yeah...I have...only for the last ten pages or so >_<
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting leo305:
can someone post the hurricane hunter tracking map, are they going back into the eye?

Looks like they're headed for home.

My hat's off to those guys this evening. The turbulence in that storm tonight was extreme - they were getting bounced around hundreds of feet in each high-density burst. They got the data. Time to call it a night.
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Levi, what are your current thoughts on what New England will likely see?
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1794. xcool



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1792. hydrus
Quoting redUK:
Nice hexagonal eye on Saturn!



Earl

Isnt that the "jet stream" on Saturn? I do not think it is an eye.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21193
Quoting Alockwr21:
Can someone post an image/link with the lat/long and earl on it? How far from 75 west is he?


About one degree
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So this expected N/NE turn should be happening within the next hour or 2, correct? or else we have a lot larger impact than originally thought?
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Trof looks to be slllloooowwwing down...hope it's not overdone. OBX residents, get out while you still can!
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1787. VBgirl
No damsel in distress here believe me. If mandatory evacs are ordered I'm going. We are just about packed. And judging from the pressure drop and sattelite presentation of the storm, plus the fact it seems to be wobbling west, I would imagine first thing tomorrow we will be in the long snaking line of traffic trying to get out of here. But again, there is a part of me that would like to stay but I also don't swim that well and like being alive. So...I will leave if they tell me too. But I stayed here through Isabel and Emily and was in Charleston when Hugo hit. So I do have a hearty respect for hurricanes and Earl is looking like Hugo who scared the hell out of me. So we will leave if told to.
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The evacuation order here in Alpharetta is voluntary. I'm going to ride this one out.
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Quoting CloudGatherer:

No, not at all. It's too soon to say that.

What I'm saying is that the NHC can no longer afford to take that risk, however miniscule. With a storm this powerful this close to major populations, it has to start ringing the alarm bells as vigorously as it can. If its forecast track is right, people will be a little miffed, but they'll get over it. But if this storm deviates far enough from the track to bring the eye over the outer banks, for example, and the NHC hadn't done everything in its power to raise the alarum, that would be a huge blow.

When it was a Cat 3, it was sufficient to be confident in the modeling. With a potential Category 5, you just don't take chances, however small.
Agreed!
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earl has turned out to be one monstoroussss storm , ppl please be smart and get out of its path
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1780. MZT
Quoting jeffs713:
Then get out now. I know many others on here feel this way, but it is better to be alive and tired from driving, rather than stupid and dead.


Listen to Jeffs713! If I was on the OBX now, I'd have seen enough to convince me it's time to go. Don't want to end up being stuck in traffic tomorrow. Or unable to find gas because everybody else drained the stations.

If I wasn't willing to start a long drive at 10:30, I'd at least set my alarm for 4 AM and bug out ASAP. Staying on the islands in front of a storm like this, is too risky.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 793
Has anyone put the big "A WORD" out there yet...

Earl has possibly gone Annular!
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1710. bcycsailor 2:18 AM GMT on September 02, 2010
Quoting JupiterFL:


Where are the 3 drunk guys for this storm? That had to be some of the funniest video I have ever seen.


You can find Oz here:

http://thextremeweather.com/


Thanks for the info, appreciated
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folks should be using the NASA/MSFC satellite loops, it updates every 15 minutes or so

Link
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Anyone on the OBX better git.

Extreme impact.



that high and extreme may even shift more left at this next advisory
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me no like ah da gaston...

No disrespect to the people of the East Coast, but...I'm glad Earl is not in the Gulf. Its all fun to watch and wishcast or what have you.

Its a different story when you staring at a monster headed your way, and about 12 hours before landfall it hits you...uhhh this is for real.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1279
Quoting jeffs713:

No offense, but you're crazy. I've only been through Ike, but if you are that close to the beach... yeah, I would be on the way out right now.

Please leave your name, home address, next of kin information with the local authorities and let them know that you don't expect them to save you.
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Quoting spathy:
How close is Earl to the Gulf Stream????


Hope you can see this clearly; click here for a full sized image. The dark red stream flowing offshore VA/NC is the gulf stream.

Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Highway 12 floods in so many places just from a good summer storm. If I were there, I would get out now. I don't understand why there aren't more mandatory evacuations. I'm a big chicken with hurricanes, though. I've only been through Gaston and Isabel inland in Richmond, and it was terrifying. I would hate to experience the real deal. I don't feel good about the Outer Banks. I hope I'm wrong.
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1770. leo305
can someone post the hurricane hunter tracking map, are they going back into the eye?
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
Quoting VBgirl:
No, wouldn't stay if I did. Just me and hubby and he's as crazy as I am.


There's a reason 1500 peeps died during Katrina, many have never been found.
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I'm shocked we're having to wait until 11PM for an advisory. I will be equally shocked if the wind speed hasn't ramped up by at least 10 mph.
Member Since: August 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
We have the serrated outer edge that is typical of a Cat 5 but not the completely smooth circular exterior base for the "teeth". Notice the uneven outer fringe of the Eastern quad

Getting close but I suspect no cigar.

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Quoting Flyairbird:
Are you saying this a Charley Redux?

No, not at all. It's too soon to say that.

What I'm saying is that the NHC can no longer afford to take that risk, however miniscule. With a storm this powerful this close to major populations, it has to start ringing the alarm bells as vigorously as it can. If its forecast track is right, people will be a little miffed, but they'll get over it. But if this storm deviates far enough from the track to bring the eye over the outer banks, for example, and the NHC hadn't done everything in its power to raise the alarum, that would be a huge blow.

When it was a Cat 3, it was sufficient to be confident in the modeling. With a potential Category 5, you just don't take chances, however small.
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VB Girl: Rt 12 almost always washes out and gets inpassable. They usually have to get the backhoes out to get the sand off the road. Two lane road between miles of sand dunes. We're a bit better off down this end.

VB Girl: A winter storm once opened up a very neat river back from the sound, not too far from you. Isabel ripped up KDH and Kitty Hawk. Up in the pines, maybe, but where you are, never would you find me at 5:00pm tomorrow. The call at 11:OO might be a no choice event, if no turn. Do take care.
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xcool, could you post that animated lat/long for Earl? Just trying to follow it...
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1761. snowboy
Quoting VBgirl:
I'm in Kill Devil Hills on vacation at parents beach house. There is a part of me that really, really wants to stay. Not leaving unless they evacuate residents. We are between the beach road and the bypass.


It's not worth it to take the risk - please get out when they evacuate..
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1760. redUK
Nice hexagonal eye on Saturn!



Earl

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1759. 900MB
Okay, u r right, but I chose 900MB as a screen name because it is a number that is about as devastating as could be imagined. We are in the hood. What do you estimate the surface pressure at based on these numbers?
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Quoting VBgirl:
No, wouldn't stay if I did. Just me and hubby and he's as crazy as I am.


If I may ask could you please do the first responders a favor. Write your name and address on your arms in a sharpie. You have the right to stay if you so wish but if this thing comes on land as a cat 4 with that symetry your going to need help and this will speed up the process in case you need emergency treatment. I am not being trite nor funny.
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Yet again if the Midwest trough gets there in time it is fine. If not ? damn is the east coast in trouble. I think the trough will get there but I would not chance it if I was in the cone.
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Quoting Levi32:


That's 2 hours old now. This is more recent and looks even better.


If he was well out to sea, I would say he is beautiful and awe-inspiring. Looking at where he is now... its more akin to looking at a nuclear weapon's mushroom cloud. It is awe-inspiring, but at the same time, very foreboding.
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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.