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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07L/MH/E/C4
MARK
30.11N/74.90W
nearing coast
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CoopsWife:


No. And too late now to get out of the way as large as Earl is.
That would actually make me feel better if I lived near there. Not sayin that it cant or wont sneak up on them but the Navy takes care of ships for a livin.
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8936
The loops on the Earl floater show just two movement frames out of 15 which can be called "due" North and when the 12 loop sat images are shown the North wobble is even less discernible to not at all...these wobble count perhaps..but Earl needs just one degree further west to slide his Western eye wall on the outermost outer banks...anything more in the next 5 degrees North movement means a direct hit for the most heavily populated portions of the Outer Banks (Northern half.)
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
From 10:15 to 11:45 UTC Earl has been moving N.Link
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Quoting reedzone:
Earl is moving North-Northwest, not due North, read the coordinates...

8:00 AM EDT Thu Sep 2
Location: 30.1°N 74.8°W
Max sustained: 145 mph
Moving: NNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 932 mb


The last 3 fixes from the HH has him traveling at 352 degrees. That is a lot closer to North than to NorthWest.
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622. h0db
When is Earl likely to make landfall (or closest approach) to the Hatteras area and what is his intensity likely to be? I have a house on Colington Island and the flood tables are kind of tricky depending on intensity and surge.
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That north turn is evident, probably a wobble...
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting breald:


Thanks, hopefully they will be safe. They cannot evacuate like humans can.


my horses have been thru two. Ivan was the worst. It did not hit us but when it made landfall we had 8 tornadoes in 8 minutes. As soon as it was safe i went to check my horses. all fences were down and they were huddled up in the middle of the pasture, butts together, facing out like spokes in a wheel so they could observe all directions. They were standing in two feet deep of rubbled limbs and debris. for a couple of months afterward on a ride they would jump if a twig snapped. I actually observed them in Dennis when bands came thru. It wasnt so bad just real hard rain and wind. They would stand butts to the rain and wind and would not go under shelter at all. they clearly wanted to be able to run if need be and not be confined.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 1448
Earl has been moving N for the last hour.
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616. Jax82
Very close to home now. Models have him farthest west at about 75.5W/31.5N, I think thats a critical turning point. If he can start his curve NNE there as the models are predicting it will hopefully avoid a direct hit on the outer banks.

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5 AM EARL (excerpt)
THE INITIAL MOTION IS 330/16. THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE TO EITHER THE FORECAST PHILOSOPHY OF THE TRACK FORECAST FOR THE FIRST 48 HR.

EARL SHOULD TURN NORTHWARD AND NORTH-NORTHEASTWARD AS IT ROUNDS THE END OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE AND ENTERS THE WESTERLIES. THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE IS TIGHTLY CLUSTERED AROUND THIS SOLUTION...AND THE NEW TRACK IS DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLUSTER.

AFTER 48 HR...THE GUIDANCE HAS SHIFTED TO THE LEFT DUE TO CHANGES IN THE INTERACTION OF EARL WITH A STRONG WESTERLY TROUGH DURING EXTRATROPICAL TRANSITION.

THE 48-72 HR TRACK HAS BEEN SHIFTED TO THE LEFT...BUT STILL LIES ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE GUIDANCE ENVELOPE.
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Quoting tkeith:
Navy movin any ships out to sea from Hampton Roads yet?


No. And too late now to get out of the way as large as Earl is.
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Quoting reedzone:
Earl is moving North-Northwest, not due North, read the coordinates...

8:00 AM EDT Thu Sep 2
Location: 30.1°N 74.8°W
Max sustained: 145 mph
Moving: NNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 932 mb


For the last couple of hours he is moving nearly due North. Go to floater and put up Lat/Lon lines and have a look..........
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As we talked about how intense Earl was in the standings:

100 Most Intense Hurricanes From 1851-2010

Even Danielle's on the list, at #89.

Lemme know if anything's incorrect.
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610. h0db
Quoting SQUAWK:


The are in Virginia. Just across from Wallops Island.

Chincoteague Pony Swim


No, Chincoteague ponies are not Banker horses:
The Banker horse is a breed of feral domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus) living on the islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks. It is small, hardy, and has a docile temperament. Descended from domesticated Spanish horses and possibly brought to the Americas in the 16th century, the ancestral foundation bloodstock may have become feral after surviving shipwrecks or being abandoned on the islands by one of the exploratory expeditions led by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón or Sir Richard Grenville. Populations are found on Ocracoke Island, Shackleford Banks, Currituck Banks, and in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Sanctuary.

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Earl is moving North-Northwest, not due North, read the coordinates...

8:00 AM EDT Thu Sep 2
Location: 30.1°N 74.8°W
Max sustained: 145 mph
Moving: NNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 932 mb
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
So far so good... Earl has been keeping itself out of the 75W for the past 3HRs.... will wait another hours to ensure a N turn has occurred but from what I see, it should start a NNE to NE turn within 18 to 24 hours around of the periphery of the DLM A/B High to its E.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Good morning everyone!

Ughhh, I'm stuck in bed since I got a cold. Anyways, the North Carolina radar is beginning to pick up on the outer bands of Earl.

Your mother may fall for that but we don't LOL.
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604. MZT
To be honest, it looks like Earl has pushed the trough back quite a bit from last night. Yesterday you could see it from AL through TN to central OH. Maybe it's still there by pressure readings, but the moisture has been eroded from his outflow back into Indiana.
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603. beell
Quoting tkeith:
Race to the finish line lookin at that loop Beell...


A met once told me that a tropical system will begin to respond to a trough at or around 300-500 miles distance.

I'm pulling for the trough!
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Quoting breald:
Where in NC do they have the islands that has wild horses on it? Is that in the southern part of the coast or towards the Outer Banks? Just curious.


Corolla - and they wander over the VA line into Sandbridge and Pungo all the time, LOL.
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Quoting rhiles2760:
Wild horses are on Shackleford Island in Carteret County which is South of the Outer Banks.


I was just looking up Shackleford Island because I remember back in the 1990's they had a over population situation and the NC Government was debating capturing some of the horses . Thanks
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Earl is 20 or 30 miles to the right of the forecast track.
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Quoting wfyweather:
from the looks of the steering he will only be able to continue to the N for a few hours... and will be thrown back to the NNW and NNW because of the ridge... if the trough doesnt make it in time... North Carolina may be in for a direct hit.

Link


use the next highest steering layer. Pressure at 928mb
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Quoting beell:
Atlantic WV Loop
Race to the finish line lookin at that loop Beell...
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8936
Quoting IKE:
Looks like Earl, the Pearl, is moving due north. Not sure he ever makes it to 75W.


Let's hope! East of 75 and I'm good here in VaBeach - west of 75 by very much and I could get more wind than currently forecast!
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Quoting reedzone:
After looking at the steering maps, I am confident on my latest run... A direct hit for Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras

Photobucket

NHC needs to extend Hurricane watches to Long Island.


Nice wishcast, but Earl is moving North now
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Wild horses are on Shackleford Island in Carteret County which is South of the Outer Banks.
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Quoting twhcracker:


since they are called "banker horses" I bet they are on the outer banks?
There are at least two places, Corolla and Shakleford Banks (I've spelled that wrong, I fear).
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Looks like Earl has finally shed nearly all of his westerly component. With a little luck, If he continued straight north he will miss landfall at NC. With an easterly wobble here and there (hopefully soon) they will be in relatively good shape.
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I think the question is whether Earl has begun the turn or not? the closer he gets here to NC, the more impact we will have..can someone confirm if the turn is INDEED happening and its not just a wobble?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15657
Quoting twhcracker:


since they are called "banker horses" I bet they are on the outer banks?


The are in Virginia. Just across from Wallops Island.

Chincoteague Pony Swim
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Quoting breald:
Where in NC do they have the islands that has wild horses on it? Is that in the southern part of the coast or towards the Outer Banks? Just curious.


Up north Link
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588. beell
Atlantic WV Loop
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Navy movin any ships out to sea from Hampton Roads yet?
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8936
Quoting MZT:
The extreme northern area, near Virginia. It's not an island... an isthmus.


Thanks, hopefully they will be safe. They cannot evacuate like humans can.
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584. MZT
About to go to work. Daybreak in Charlotte. Quiet, still, sunny. No real sense of a storm coming. In fact I think it was a little breezier last night.
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Here's why my forecast run was shifted left, showing a landfall in Cape Hatteras, Cape Cod, and Maine...



Strong high to the west, it really all depends on how fast Earl can race up north, seems like Earl is winning the race as P451 mentioned earlier...
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting DestinJeff:
Here is the 6Z analysis of the 500mb heights

Her is a chart showing the peak of hurricane season.
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Quoting breald:
Where in NC do they have the islands that has wild horses on it? Is that in the southern part of the coast or towards the Outer Banks? Just curious.


You are thinking of Chincoteague Island. It is located in Virginia even though it is on the E side of the Chspk Bay and S of Mary and Del.
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579. h0db
Quoting MZT:
The extreme northern area, near Virginia. It's not an island... an isthmus.


There are wild ponies on Ocracoke Island, south of Cape Hatteras, which can be reached only by ferry. Non-residents were evacuated from Ocracoke two days ago.
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578. MZT
Quoting P451:


Going to have to disagree with ya on that one, IKE.

Good Morning.



Look at the trough's progress in Iowa (quick) and then look at Ohio and Kentucky here... there's no movement east ATM. It's almost retrograding a tad.



I noticed that last night around midnight, Earls outflow was eroding the trough. The NHC forecast may bear out, but it looks like the trough will not "win" the race.
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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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