Category 4 Earl Approaches the East Coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:49 AM GMT on September 02, 2010

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Hi, Dr. Rob Carver with your evening blog update. It's a busy night in the tropics with category 4 Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storms Fiona and Gaston in the Atlantic. We'll focus on Earl tonight.

Earl
As of 11PM EDT, Earl is a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph and faster gusts. From the advisory, Earl is located at 27.8 N, 73.8 W, 520 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC. On average, Earl is currently moving north-northwest at 18 mph. Data from hurricane hunter flights show that Earl's pressure has fallen, the minimum central pressure is now 932 mb. Looking at Figure 1, an estimate of rainfall rates (think radar in space), we see a complete eyewall, with an especiallly vigorous thunderstorm cluster in the northwest quadrant. These


Fig. 1 Estimated rainfall-rate of Earl taken at 9PM EDT 1 September 2010. Image courtesy of the Naval Research Lab

Earl is still a large storm. Hurricane force winds extend 90 miles from the storm center and tropical storm force winds can be found 230 miles away. 12 foot seas extend at least 210 nmi from the center in all directions and may reach out to 450 nmi in the northeast quadrant of the storm. The most recent estimate (930PM EDT) of Earl's integrated kinetic energy is 91 TJ, with a wind impact of 3.1 out of 6 and a storm surge impact of 4.7 out of 6. Like Dr. Masters said earlier today, if the right front quadrant of Earl stays out to sea, the storm surge may not be as significant as this rating indicates.

Track Forecast
NHC has not really altered their track forecast for this update. Thanks to the subtropical high, Earl will continue turning toward the north as it moves around the subtropical high. When the trough in the jet stream comes out on Thursday, Earl will accelerate quickly to the northeast. The timing of the trough's arrival will determine Earl's impact on the East Coast. If the trough comes out quickly, Earl will stay at sea. If the trough is late in arriving, it could move Earl across the East Coast.

That said, the current forecast still holds that Earl's center will stay out to sea, but with Earl's center passing near the Outer Banks late Thursday night, then passing the Delmarva peninsula Friday morning before flying past Cape Cod Friday night and crossing over Canada's Nova Scotia Saturday. There is also a small possibility (less than 10%) that Earl could pass directly over the Outer Banks and/or the Delmarva peninsula. However, with a storm of Earl's size, the center does not have to pass overhead to cause damage. Please keep this in mind when considering your hurricane preparations.

Winds Forecast
Earl's size and track will produce tropical-storm force winds somewhere along the East Coast this weekend, and there is a 28% chance of hurricane-force winds along the Outer Banks. NHC puts out a very useful wind probability forecast. The highlights are that Cape Hatteras, NC has a 28% chance of hurricane-force winds and a 91% chance of tropical-storm (TS) force winds. A wide swath of 30+% probabilities covers the East Coast from Virginia to New England. Cities with a greater than 40% chance of TS winds include Norfolk, Ocean City, Providence, Boston, and Nantucket. Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada has a 62% chance of TS force winds.

Earl is expected to maintain its current intensity until it meets the trough and starts moving northeastwards. The shear from the trough will start weakening it. It will likely go by Cape Cod as a fast-moving category 2 hurricane. When it goes over Nova Scotia, it will likely still be a tropical storm.
Current Watches and Warnings

Hurricane warnings are valid for the coast from Bogue Inlet, NC to the NC/VA border. Hurricane watches in effect from the NC/VA border to Cape Henlopen, DE and from Woods Hole, MA to Sagamore Beach, MA. Tropical storm warnings and watches cover much of the coast in between the NC/VA border and Woods Hole, MA. For the latest information on watches and warnings for Earl, visit our Tropical Alerts page.

Impacts
The primary threats from Earl are going to be storm surge, surf, and wind. Since Earl is forecast to gain speed after meeting the trough, flooding from rain should not be a large problem. From a broad perspective, storm surges are expected to be 3-5 feet above the tidal level, with large breaking waves at the coast. Beach erosion along the Delmarva peninsula and Outer Banks (8-10 foot breaking waves) could be significant. For more localized info, check out NWS's Hurricane Local Statements or our severe weather page.

What to do
People living in areas covered by the watches and warnings should be working through their hurricane preparation plans now. You have less than 24 hours to complete your preparations if you are in the Outer Banks and less than 48 hours in New England. Be sure to listen to local media for statements from emergency management agencies and the local NWS.

Fiona
All watches and warnings for Fiona were discontinued by the 5:00 PM EDT forecast. Fiona is forecast to curve northward without affecting land and dissipate in 4 days.

Gaston
Once Earl moves past Nova Scotia, this is the storm to watch in the tropical Atlantic. While it is far out at sea (more than 6 days to affect land), some computer models suggest Gaston could affect the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Statistical intensity forecast models (LGEM and SHIPS) rapidly intensify Gaston, but the dynamical models (HWRF, GFDL) do not. This storm will be worth watching over the next week or so.

Aerial Reconnaissance
The skies around Earl are going to be very busy Thursday according to the Tropical Cyclone Plan of the Day. There will be 3 flights from the Hurricane Hunters. NCAR and NOAA's Gulfstream's will be flying around Earl. HRD's WP-3D's will be flying research missions every 12 hours. NASA is sending several aircchraft as part of their Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) mission. Their Global Hawk UAV will be flying for at least 24 hours. NASA's DC-8 has a six-hour mission scheduled. Finally, a WB-57 (one of the planes I supported during 2001's CRYSTAL-FACE) will also be flying high above Earl with microwave remote sensing gear. NASA has a nice list of the airborne instruments.


Fig. 2 Photo of Earl's eyewall taken from NASA's DC-8 Image Credit: NASA/Jane Peterson. (Full size image)

Next update
Dr. Jeff Masters will have an update Thursday morning. Dr. Masters, myself, Shaun Tanner, and myself will be participating in a special Hurricane Haven Thursday afternoon to discuss Earl's imminent approach. Dr. Masters will have the finalized details in his blog update.

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1427. kwgirl
Quoting RecordSeason:
OMG...

That makes me suspect terrorism.

All these years and no major U.S. rig disasters, and now suddenly two rigs explode within the same year?

That's BS...

It's right off Grand Isle too.
OR it could be GW which is causing the methane in the ground to be released. Just a thought. Hope it isn't terrorism.
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1426. kwgirl
Quoting NEwatcher:


I am in SE Mass and having a hard time getting the WX guys up here to commit to anything but the Cape. Should I drain the pool a little?
You are not supposed to drain pools. They pop out of ground if you let too much out.
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NEW BLOG
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ok blog just got too quiet
Member Since: June 28, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 156
See a couple models are trying to do some interesting things with Fiona...Think she's telling Earl "You don't own me"
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1422. 34chip
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
34chip 3:50 PM GMT on September 02, 2010
Quoting StormsAreCool:



Well, that's gay. Just what we need. :(
As someone that is Gay. I do not fine that funny!!


putting on your shirt might keep the rest of us from laughing too
Driving and taking a picture make you look stupied!
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1418. TheMom
Am I missing the 1100 still or is still not up figured it would be on here as soon as it posted.
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Quoting Kristina40:


Oh God, no. Please tell me that is a mistake..

Link to story
http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13089364
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Quoting jazzygal:
Another oil rig explosion in the Gulf south of Grand Isle per WWl Radio. Dozens hurt.


According to CNN, 13 people were on board. All but one have been accounted for.
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Hey guys, whats going on with Gaston? Is it the dry air? Will should he still make the forcasted turn?
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Quoting RJT185:



well that's insensitive, which is exactly what we don't need.


How is that insensitive? I'm saying it's a bad thing and we don't need it.
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Quoting ConchHondros:
Flood whats the declination where Earl is?..my point is we keep hearing "due north"...well thats 360...if for example there is a neg 6deg dec then 360 would be the easterly movement...Right? cant google where I am, thanks.


I thought due north was zero degrees, not 360, am I mistaken?
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Workers donned their "gumby suits", Coast Guard plucking them out of water now.
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1410. snowboy
Quoting notabubba:

Longtime lurker here in RI, but Earl is rousing me from slumber. Bob dropped a 30" diameter black locust tree on my roof in '91 so really don't want his cousin Earl to visit. What's up with the Buffalo NWS office? Why do they perceive the motion and effectiveness of the trough so differently from NHC? And if Buffalo is accurate, doesn't this potentailly mean Earl is much further left of the forecast track by the time it gets to New England? Thanks all.


They're just calling it as they see it. I'm an hour west of Buffalo, and we have brilliant sunshine and it's HOT - the long advertised trough is nowhere to be seen..
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1408. 34chip
Quoting StormsAreCool:



Well, that's gay. Just what we need. :(
As someone that is Gay. I do not fine that funny!!
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1407. 34chip
Quoting StormsAreCool:



Well, that's gay. Just what we need. :(
As someone that is Gay. I do not fine that funny!!
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1406. 34chip
Quoting StormsAreCool:



Well, that's gay. Just what we need. :(
As someone that is Gay. I do not fine that funny!!
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new blog gang
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Quoting mikatnight:
OIL RIG EXPLODES IN GOM

Just saw that too -- busy news day out in the waters, on many levels.
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Quoting aasmith26:


have found no evidence of this, anywhere on the web.


http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13089364
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Quoting aasmith26:


have found no evidence of this, anywhere on the web.


http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13089364
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1401. RJT185
Quoting StormsAreCool:



Well, that's gay. Just what we need. :(



well that's insensitive, which is exactly what we don't need.
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Quoting Kristina40:


I already posted a link to it and it is all over the news right now.


yes I see and my son called me back and let me know what was going on.
sheri
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1399. snotly
It is South of Vermillion Parish. See nola.com

Thank God its only 450 feet down, if anyone was looking for a silver lining
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1394 Gumbogirl..mirror your thoughts. Definitely things to seriously consider esp. with children and the elderly.
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OIL RIG EXPLODES IN GOM
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Mcluvincane...You are baiting/fishing with that Fox comment..LOL.
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Quoting midgulfmom:
Thanks for the update Gumbogirl. Glad to hear they have been rescued. And no reports of Oil. Ugh! Yes back to Earl....


Yes. Unfortunately, we live with incidents like these on the rigs. Seems like they happen far too often. But, it appears that this was not one of the super rigs and not anything like what we experienced back in May. My prayers are with those of the remaining person yet to be found...I just want to make sure people here on this forum don't think another BP oil spill just occurred b/c that is not the case.

Anyone waiting to evacuate for Earl, just get out of his way. Why do you want to live through tornadoes, your roof possibly being torn off or a tree falling on your home? Not to mention if you have children and you are near the coast, they are going to be traumatized from this thing...not to mention yourself! Have mercy on yourself, your pets, your children and just leave if you are on the NC coast and nearby areas!!
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Quoting gumbogrrl:


!3 people on rig. 12 have been rescued. It is ok. You can go to http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/Coast-Guard-reporting-rig-explosion-south-of-Grand-Isle-102065593.ht ml

Now, back to Earl! Everyone in his crosshairs please evacuate! Talk of Eye Wall replacement on this blog...and I know from experience that is not a good thing.


A person still missing after the explosion and it's "okay"?
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
1392. 900MB
If that is an EWRC looks like it will wobble it west by .5deg
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Quoting texascoastres:
The storms are bad enough without the not knowing if family members that stayed are ok. Yah, 30 hrs in evac traffic really stinks but so does the horror of wathcing this from a safe distance and not being able to communicate with the ones that chose to stay and may or maynot be there when you get back!


That reminds me - during a disaster it's easier to get through using texts than it is to call when the phone lines jam up or go down. I'm sure you know this, Texas - but for anyone from the east coast... learned this from experience.
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1389. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
DOCS GOT A NEW PAGE UP
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1388. Bonedog
Vermilion 380 all accounted for.

Rig fully engulfed in flames
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Quoting leelee75k:
what is local media coverage like in the watch and warning areas? Are they doing non stop coverage like they do in South Florida? Mainstream media while giving it attention seems be awfully reserved, not the usual overhype you usually get.


I am in SE Mass and having a hard time getting the WX guys up here to commit to anything but the Cape. Should I drain the pool a little?
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1385. 900MB
Quoting jazzygal:


It is South of Vermillion Parish. See nola.com


Hopefully the blowout preventer works on this one!!!!
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:


I just called my son he's on grand isle and he hasn't heard nothing about it yet. I'm not saying it didn't happen i just wanted to make sure he was k. He's gonna call me back aas soon as he finds out what's going on.
sheri


I already posted a link to it and it is all over the news right now.
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GRAND ISLE, LA (WAFB) - WWL-TV in New Orleans has confirmed the Coast Guard is responding to a rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dozens are reported injured.

According to the Coast Guard, it happened 80 miles south of Grand Isle.

Rescue choppers from New Orleans and Houston are responding.

The injured will be taken to hospitals in various coastal areas from Houston to the Louisiana/Mississippi border area.

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Quoting Floodman:


IF it continues noirth, yes, it has to graze, especially with an EWRC coing...the expansion of the wind field will cause some further interaction, but as for Cape Cod, that's a wait and see proposition...how far east will he tend as the trof moves into play?


One disturbing thought is what if the trough fails and falls apart as the NWS Buffalo discussion suggested. That could allow a more Northerly component AFTER OBX and change the track to one with less recurve/S-curve. This could change the route of Earl and threaten more of VA and areas directly North. Will the AB High ridge pull back and itself allow a more Easterly movement for Earl without that Trough pushing through?
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
Bonedog @1360: Do you have a link to that map? Thanks in advance!
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Earl might be getting to the outerbanks to fast...this may not be good.
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Normally, I try to avoid engaging in conjecture but it would seem that the absence of a new blog update by the good Dr. would indicate a change in the track forecast based on the trough's weakness.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
1378. h0db
new blog from Dr. Masters

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html
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Quoting jazzygal:


It is South of Vermillion Parish. See nola.com

http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/Coast-Guard-reporting-rig-explosion-south-of-Grand-Isle-102065593.h tml

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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.