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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Hurricanes are scary creatures (can I call it a creature?)

A couple tips I picked up (during Ivan)
- thread garbage bags in and out of louvre windows to create a water tight seal (they leak like crazy otherwise)
- keep beach towels to mop up leaks
- put pool furnitue in pool to prevent them blowing around
-If you don't have a toolkit get one
-PLAN ahead for your animals. They get so spooked (I feel so bad for them)
-PLAN for your kids. They have no idea how to entertain themselves without power. WHAT NO playstation????

Stay safe and say your prayers.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
point of no return would be 31 75 if he makes it may be starting a turn a couple of hrs will tell

Hi Keeper - meaning that if he gets past this point, he'll most likely make a direct hit?
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Regarding the very latest GOES satellite image along w/ Nexrad Reflectivity loops...it appears in my opinion that Earl has just about reached it's furthest point west longitude. Motion now appears to be 350 degrees (almost due north), & any westward jogs/wobbles should not be enough to knock it off its latest projected GFS model run at this point. Midwest trough's influence will continue impacting the steering of the system the next 48 hrs. Even the eyewall & northwest quadrant of storm passing 50mi east of OTB & eastern seaboard will amass quite a storm surge. Also, the system most likely reached it's height last evening when the central pressure dipped to 930mb. The 145mph sustained inner-core winds now mirrors that. Very impressive storm indeed. Again...not a bad run for good old Earl.


I can't find a radar site with the core of Earl, let alone the eye.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
GASTON is so weak right now i wounder if it has open in too a open wave
no is not
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Web cam Hatteras Island

Link
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Quoting wilburo33:
In the past, Directv has put local stations, in the storm area, on channel 363. They may do this again.
thanks willburo...nice avatar BTW :)
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8937
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


wave east of Ex-Gaston


Gaston isn't gone.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
I live in MD, east of 95, but west of the bay. I don't expect to feel much of any effects of Earl.
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I just have to mention this:

I'll bet half the people from eastern NC/VA that are currently debating whether to leave or not, are the same people whom, after Katrina, called people in Louisiana crazy for not leaving.

When in doubt, get the heck out!

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In the past, Directv has put local stations, from the storm area, on channel 363. They may do this again.
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766. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


wave east of Ex-Gaston
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Jeff,

do you have any intensity models that show this as well as a long range path?
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The angling of the trough looks almost parallel to the coast at the moment. If the angulation was to stay like that and upon consideration of the relevant steering maps then there seems to me an every increasing chance that Earl will literally ride up the coast (the most devastating outcome possible Im sorry to say) Still time for this to change of course
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Last post before I head out to a meeting. Still no crows (seem to have left yesteday) and only 3 birds and one squirrel feeding in the yard instead of the normal morning line up of several dozen waiting their turn at the various feeders. Quiet outside - no bird calls, just cicada buzz. filtered sunlight and hazy skies already.

Back early afternoon after this major meeting to check radar again and decide whether to throw the go bags in the truck.

BTW - I'm at 36.8 N 76 W.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
This Looks like a Double Hit...

OBX and Cape Cod....

Ts Winds to Obx, thru Boston and everything in bewteen.


That is our estimate right now and looking at a few million people without power.

Those in NC should be prepared.
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A question for anyone who knows. Is there a site where someone can view longer satelite loops? Longer loops would show the general motion better. Perhaps some of the posts that pick up on every wobble might not fill up the blog as much
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From hear on out, we cant afford any wobbles to the West.
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The outer periphery of Earl now appears to be over the continental shelf. This is a large storm and it appears that conditions in North Carolina will start to deteriorate soon.
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Quoting tkeith:
Taz...

:)


reported.....lol
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Good Morning All,

Met Service of Jamaica Website
September 02, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.

LOCAL WEATHER FORECAST

SIGNIFICANT FEATURE…Trough across the central Caribbean, induced by Hurricane Earl.

Comment
The trough will linger across the central Caribbean today and tomorrow.

24-HOURS FORECAST
This Morning… Mainly sunny.

This Afternoon… Expect periods of showers and thunderstorms mainly across southern parishes.

Tonight… Generally fair.

3-DAYS FORECAST (starting tomorrow)
Fri- Sun… Mainly sunny mornings with scattered afternoon showers and isolated thunderstorms mainly across central and western parishes.


Regionally… Hurricane Earl and Tropical storm Fiona continue to dominate weather conditions across the northwestern Atlantic. Tropical Storm Gaston however, has gained a little strength as it moves toward the northern Leeward Islands.
grb
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or they may this downgrade him in too a open wave in tell he gets out of the dry air
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Quoting Patrap:


The NHC and the Big Dogs are confident of the Guidance presently..but any deviation WEST is going to bring the Storm cloaser or Inland . So dont be there if you dont have to be.

This is a Catastrophic Hurricane. I cant stress that fact enough this morning.

Were going to Lose Lives unfortunately I feel.

thats the reality some just don't listen payment is ultimate no refunds on this purchase
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
We are on way home from Kill Devil Hills but even home we aren't out of the woods. I live in Virginia Beach but quite a ways from the shore. This storm is scaring me and I don't scare easily. I felt certain it was going to turn but now unless it makes a really hard right we are in trouble and it's so strong. I'm having flashbacks of Hugo.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Yep. People need to get outta there and fast as he is a coming and he is no joke.
My company is in Morehead City (I'm not) and they area not leaving, being vets of many H's. I like these people a lot and hope they know what they are doing.
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Quoting Patrap:


The NHC and the Big Dogs are confident of the Guidance presently..but any deviation WEST is going to bring the Storm cloaser or Inland . So dont be there if you dont have to be.

This is a Catastrophic Hurricane. I cant stress that fact enough this morning.

Were going to Lose Lives unfortunately I feel.



Awesome avatar photo - gunny Hightower....hoo ra
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Quoting Tazmanian:
GASTON is so weak right now i wounder if it has open in too a open wave


ATCF/Model Guidance says TD.

I'm slightly surprised at that, NHC tend to like to keep continuity. Dry air has done a number on him for the moment... but that's not good news.

That may make Gaston go even more west if he stays weak. That isn't good.

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Glossary of NHC Terms
Direct Hit:
A close approach of a tropical cyclone to a particular location. For locations on the left-hand side of a tropical cyclone's track (looking in the direction of motion), a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to the cyclone's radius of maximum wind. For locations on the right-hand side of the track, a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to twice the radius of maximum wind. Compare indirect hit, strike.

Strike:
For any particular location, a hurricane strike occurs if that location passes within the hurricane's strike circle, a circle of 125 n mi diameter, centered 12.5 n mi to the right of the hurricane center (looking in the direction of motion). This circle is meant to depict the typical extent of hurricane force winds, which are approximately 75 n mi to the right of the center and 50 n mi to the left.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Good morning all!

Fema is really trying to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. Some supplies are in route.

I guess the biggest thing to take away from Doc M's post is that there are two possible scenarios....one scenario the eye passes over the sea and brushes by the Outer Banks but the hurricane and tropical storm winds /surge is so great that the impact will really be felt. The worst case scenario the eye hits NC coast.

Hopefully folks are prepared and ready. I noticed a slight jog to the west just now. Hopefully Earl will slow down and really feel that trof. Im a little tired but Im hanging on for Storm's update before getting back to work.

Peace and God's blessings to you and those in NC /east coast.
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743. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #37
TROPICAL STORM KOMPASU (T1007)
21:00 PM JST September 2 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea Of Japan

At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Kompasu (1000 hPa) located at 40.0N 132.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east northeast at 21 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

Gale Force Winds
================
100 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
80 NM from the center in western quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 41.5N 140.8E - Tropical Depression
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Quoting hydrus:
Check out the CMC if you have time. It is interesting..........Link


Interesting in what way? Pretty standard activity that all the models are showing. Just regurgitation of the same information. You had got me excited that it was picking up something different, shame on you.
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Earl has had alot of time over open water to build big waves and alot of surge. Hurricane force winds will be felt well inland. I dont see any way around it...
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8937
GASTON is so weak right now i wounder if it has open in too a open wave
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Quoting Patrap:


Im aware of that fact..and the NOAA Floaters take time to process.

Radar is Key now.



Indeed Radar is real time and what we need most to follow. I wasn't writing to you so much as using your post to show others...you have made the more important point here...Watch The Radar!
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
Quoting JAC737:
The most important thing we had (besides gas and a generator) after IKE was cash. ATM's don't work when there's no power.


And they will likely run out of cash before loss of power if there are enough people needing it.
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Thanks Patrap. All along the coast will be in thoughts & prayers. Back to lurking status. Mike
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735. h0db
Quoting Patrap:


Thats a myth..thats when the eye crosses that point ,,by that time half the Storm is Onshore with the Powerful Impact front quads.
So cut that down by 60%


Plus Earl's track speed is likely to increase considerably once the trof moves closer to the coast.
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
Quoting Patrap:


Thats a myth..thats when the eye crosses that point ,,by that time half the Storm is Onshore with the Powerful Impact front quads.
So cut that down by 60%


Good Point Patrap.
This has been said many times in various ways on this blog in the last day, so let me say it one more time.
If you live on the Outer Banks and are reading this blog, then it is time to turn off the computer, lock up the house and LEAVE!
Just my opinion. Everyone be safe!
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733. beell
Hurricane Earl/NWS Local Statements
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Wow, this is going to be a close one. Any farther west and the OB will get nailed. Hope that is indeed a true northward turn we are seeing. After Earl, all eyes will be on Gaston, I have a bad feeling about that one, might not be a door open for him based on the ridging patterns so far.
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Quoting UnobtrusiveTroll10:
Paptrap, others: Any reason at this point to believe the cone of uncertainty (track forecast) will be changing?


The NHC and the Big Dogs are confident of the Guidance presently..but any deviation WEST is going to bring the Storm cloaser or Inland . So dont be there if you dont have to be.

This is a Catastrophic Hurricane. I cant stress that fact enough this morning.

Were going to Lose Lives unfortunately I feel.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Quoting JAC737:
The most important thing we had (besides gas and a generator) after IKE was cash. ATM's don't work when there's no power.
Good morning all. Yes, Cash is most important. People cannot use credit cards without power either. And it could be days, weeks, depending on the damage. Stay safe!
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Quoting tkeith:
In my thinkin there would be severe consequences for the brass if Cat4 made a direct hit on them with all those sittin ducks in harbor...heads would roll.


WUmail
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Quoting barotropic:


I am curious are you located along the east coast?


Florida
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
Just stopping in for a few minutes. I was up till 3AM this morning, watching Earl.

This is going to be a real nail-biter for the NC to NS region, people in Cape Hatteras, NC and Nantucket Island/Cape Cod, MA need to be ready for a possible direct hi.

My prayers for safety goes out for folks in the possible affected area up & down the Eastern Seaboard.
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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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