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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For Earl to reach CAT 5 intensity the pressure would need to be sub 920 mbs and stay there long enough for the winds to ramp up. I do not think Earl has either the time or the ocean heat content to make that threshold.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
Quoting FLdewey:
CycloneOz just wiped out a Sports Authority in Goldsboro,NC. All of the XXL Athletic supporters and cups are GONE.


OMG... LOL
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1354. redUK
--

Has anyone here run the SLOSH storm surge model for Earl?

--
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Not really looking like a Caribbean system. Maybe another system that ends up north of the islands.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
Flight level winds don't make it seem it strengthened much.
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From the article "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."

This is good news, it will churn up cooler waters.
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These NW bends are key now. He's shooting for 75W 30N, thats the critical point right there folks, after that throw out models and forecasts, its satellite and radar time and that will tell you where he's going.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
why are the pressures rising on the east coast is that high holding on a little longer...
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Quoting MysteryMeat:
Hey Norfolk/Va. Beach people: What's the deal with Jon Cash getting fired? A major hurricane is on the doorstep and they fire their longtime No. 2 caster? Something seems very odd about that.

I know he generates a bit of controversy by being a conservative Christian preacher (he wrong a Left Behind-esque novel about the end of days), and he was an unrepentant wishcaster (he'd wear a snowflake pin any time snow was in the forecast, and he was always the one forecaster in the area who lent credence to the solution that resulted in a major hurricane striking the area). But neither are particularly new developments.

Hmmm ... come to think of it, the Revelations fiction writing and his doomsday weather forecasts might be linked ...


Live a little north of norfolk, 30 or so miles, but we loved Jon Cash, and are going to miss him and the snowflake pin. I Hope WVEC or WTKR pick him up immediately.
Member Since: June 30, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 229
1345. Max1023
It looks like recon missed the center a bit, the winds go from W to S to E when we should have seen a calm barb. The lowest extrapolated pressure might be a bit higher than the actual central value.
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long range gfs has gus crossing hispanola.
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Quoting Ameister12:
I'm thinking 150 mph by 11pm.


Nothing to support that at the moment.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
1340. leo305
the hunters have to get to the North eastern side of the eye, which is where those strongest winds should be located
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
Quoting CaneWarning:


Heck, I live in Tampa and I'm freaked he's this close to me!


Yeah, I'm in Charleston!! Not even a TS watch...nothing! The authorities are putting alot of faith in the forecast. NHC has done a nice job with this one though!! Right on target so far!
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Oh Gaston to think I actually thought the Gulf would be spared this year and you had to show up and mess that all up. Gaston does not look good. This could be the one that does some serious damage. Yes I know Earl is out there but I just dont see a direct hit from the eye onshore and the worst part NE side should remain over water.
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I'm thinking 150 mph by 11pm.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5027
1334. hydrus
It is huge.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21490
1333. leddyed
Quoting CaneWarning:


Heck, I live in Tampa and I'm freaked he's this close to me!

My lady friend lives in Zephyrhills. Since 2005, she is TERRIFIED of hurricanes, so I can understand your uneasiness.
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Earl looks mad tonight...he must have heard people talk about how he was going to go down to a Cat 2/3 quickly...obviously he has other plans; I just hope he doesn't share them "directly" with us
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
000
ABNT20 KNHC 012347
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT WED SEP 1 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON HURRICANE
EARL...LOCATED ABOUT 565 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF CAPE HATTERAS
NORTH CAROLINA. ADVISORIES ARE ALSO BEING ISSUED ON TROPICAL STORM
FIONA...LOCATED ABOUT 140 MILES NORTH OF ANGUILLA IN THE NORTHERN
LEEWARD ISLANDS...AND ON RECENTLY UPGRADED TROPICAL STORM
GASTON...LOCATED ABOUT 895 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE
ISLANDS.

YET ANOTHER STRONG TROPICAL WAVE IS ABOUT TO MOVE OFF THE WEST COAST
OF AFRICA AND IS PRODUCING A BROAD AREA OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE ADJACENT WATERS. SOME SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF
THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE AS IT MOVES WESTWARD NEAR 10 MPH OVER THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS
SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.


ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

PUBLIC ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL STORM GASTON ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTNT34 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCPAT4.
FORECAST/ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL STORM GASTON ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTNT24 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCMAT4.

$$
FORECASTER BERG

Yep,This is gonna be a slow year.
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Quoting countrygurl601:
not that I am looking for a storm in the Gulf (our families lost everything to Katrina (St. Bernard Parish) but what is keeping these storms from going into the Gulf and is this expected to change or is the trend going to be for them to head to the East Coast?
hey i lived in st. bernard too. meraux
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
137 knot flight level winds.



wow
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1328. 2ifbyC
Never was a forecaster, but I think I'll just jump up to being a fivecaster! WOW...
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Quoting Greyelf:

Speaking of crazies -- anyone checked a live feed of CycloneOz?


LOL - now that is a different kind of crazy.
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GFS 18oz run for Gaston is pushing the storm southward into the heart of the caribbean, which is in contrast to the GFDL models. GFDL thinks the storm is going north of the islands. Important models are split on the trajectory.
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Didn't miss the eye...

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I have a bad feeling about this one. Wasn't really too worried about Earl coming in the basin and Fiona I guess is about as bad as a normal nor'wester but Gaston gives me a bad feeling.


If you look at the progression of storms and the sub tropical ridge we see a pattern of systems making it farther and farther West. The set up in the Central Atlantic has changed with the high going from being centered off to the NE, which allows for recurving East of or near to the Caribbean, to being zonal. This is the type of set up we have seen in years like 2004 and 2005.

I looked at several computer runs earlier today and this evening and they insist on having the ridge drive Gaston into the Caribbean. When you see that type of consensus with the models you need to pay attention to that.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
i think Earl could get too 160mph
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1321. redUK
Massachusett best hope that shear eats into Earl's intensity when it collides with the trough pushing off the CONUS.
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1320. ssmate
Quoting CaneWarning:


Heck, I live in Tampa and I'm freaked he's this close to me!
I'm in MN and little uneasy.
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137 knot flight level winds.
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Hurricane Earl...

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Quoting trey33:


Darwin


Yup.


Forgot who did the math on the eye diameter and the distance from the eye on the hurricane force winds, but if it were me and I saw this big honking baby headed towards NC I would get the hell out of the OBX or the sound side. No way I'd want this dude - Gustav was bad enough and I was in Baton Rouge (70 miles inland)!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey Norfolk/Va. Beach people: What's the deal with Jon Cash getting fired? A major hurricane is on the doorstep and they fire their longtime No. 2 caster? Something seems very odd about that.

I know he generates a bit of controversy by being a conservative Christian preacher (he wrong a Left Behind-esque novel about the end of days), and he was an unrepentant wishcaster (he'd wear a snowflake pin any time snow was in the forecast, and he was always the one forecaster in the area who lent credence to the solution that resulted in a major hurricane striking the area). But neither are particularly new developments.

Hmmm ... come to think of it, the Revelations fiction writing and his doomsday weather forecasts might be linked ...
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Quoting pilotguy1:


Many people climb the tallest mountains, fly the fastest airplanes, go into space, challenge the biggest waves. I submit that their progeny might be the best of the best instead of the sheeple that have never dared anything. IMHO.


All those things quite different from surfing in the dark with an approaching hurricane...but if someone chooses to die like that, who are we to stop them?
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1314. Greyelf
Quoting Chicklit:
I have a very bad feeling about Gaston, sad to say.
Also think people may die with Earl if they don't stay out of the goshdarned water.
Happens every year with those crazies wanting to get into high surf.

Speaking of crazies -- anyone checked a live feed of CycloneOz?
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Quoting klaatuborada:
ok, well, this sucks. I thought he was s'posed to turn, dang nab it. We're under hurricane watches now on the ole Cape of Cod.

Here's the real problem. There's no way to evacuate. There are only 2 bridges off Cape, the Sagamore and the Bourne. Even if they keep traffic in one direction, all four lanes going off, the little 2 lane highways to them will be backed up so far, people will be sitting ducks in their cars when the storm hits. That's why so many people just hunker down and pray.

I'll be back tomorrow. I have to work 10-4, then I have a conference call for a new job, then I have a hurricane. lol!


If you've handled Nor'easters then you can handle Earl!
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Down to 930mb. This extrapolated surface pressure reading is also more accurate because they were flying at a lower altitude. Let's see what type of data the dropsonde shows us.

011500 2726N 07335W 7333 02113 9300 +213 +151 114022 024 013 002 00
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1311. Max1023
I was looking at an older image which had about 2/3rds of an outer ring with the same intensity of an eyewall. The newer one suggests that the formative outer wall/strong band is not wrapping around.
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any recon flying in earl now?
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Quoting medic11402:
Just a question, I have been watching Hurricanes for about 5 years as part of my job and have picked up a lot of knowledge.

My question is regarding the track, the 8pm Adiv states that Earl is located at 73.5 W and moving at 330 at 18 mph. Given that trajectory and speed Earl will arrive at 34.31 N 77.78 W in approximately 27 hours at 1100 pm EST. The forecast places the center approx. 351 degrees from Earls current location. If Earl continues 330 at 18mph, What is going to turn earl almost due North from his current location. In approximately 4 1/2 hours Earl will need to turn 360 degrees to make the forecast point missing North Carolina and it gets worse from there. 18 hours from 8pm Eastern, if Earl follows the Projected Track, He will have to turn 010 degrees to miss NC. The expected Jet Stream that is supposed to pick up Earl and Pull Him Northeast is not supposed to be in place until 11pm Eastern on Sept.2. So what am I missing?????


While the satellite picture below is worth much more than words from me; the more knowledgeable bloggers may be able to answer you.
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1308. Patrap
WV

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128866
Dang

Recon just had a bunch of contaminated reports.

Great.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
Pass through the eye just found an extrapolated pressure of 930MB, and a peak flight-level wind of 137kts. Peak surface wind registered at 107kts.
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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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