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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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21195
Quoting StormW:
Good morning!

I will be back much later this morning to field any questions.

HURRICANE EARL AND FAMILY SYNOPSIS SEP. 02, 2010 ISSUED 7:25 A.M.


Thank You StormW for your synopsis and the weather abbreviations, it makes following this blog much easier and I thank you for that.
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Quoting breald:
The NHC has him moving northwest.



Look at sat, looks north to me.
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Okay, ya'll are going to have to help me out a bit. I'm a lurking learner but the area I am interested could or could not be in danger.

So- Tappahannock VA is approx 80 miles from say Hampton Roads, pretty close to the beach. How is it that the forecast is for AM showers wind at 10mph then sunny for the rest of the weekend? I understand this storm is going to turn, but I thought it was a large storm- why no forecasts effects?

If this isn't the case there are a lot of little communities around there that are going to be screw-ed.
Member Since: August 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
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.


since they are called "banker horses" I bet they are on the outer banks?
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 1448
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
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570. MZT
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.
The extreme northern area, near Virginia. It's not an island... an isthmus.
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Quoting reedzone:


Earl is moving NNW, about to cross 75W in a few hours. The steering is too strong, Earl may get extremely close or just clip the Outer Banks. The steering layers really show how strong the high to the east really is.


OK, let me ask this: The steering layer maps are generated by the models -- right? The models are used to predict the path of the storm -- right? The models have not been right yet -- right? So, how come we should believe that they are depicting the steering layers correctly? Or have I got this all wrong?
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lol... it's too early, motion is NNW as shown by the NHC.. Pretty much right on track for now.
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Gaston has a lot of dry air ahead of it, & it looks like it is feeling some wind shear from the outflow of the next system behind it.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/catl/flash-wv.html
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The NHC has him moving northwest.
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Quoting IKE:


Sorry...I'll disagree...he's moving north now....Link
Wobbling around. Motion does appear to be due north for now.
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Long time lurker, first time talker. I learn so much just listening to you all. StormW rocks! As a newbie and only because it is slow this morning, just wanted to say HI and thanks to each who pour their time into their passion. Gary
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....
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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.
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558. IKE
Quoting reedzone:


Earl is moving NNW, about to cross 75W in a few hours. The steering is too strong, Earl may get extremely close or just clip the Outer Banks. The steering layers really show how strong the high to the east really is.


Sorry...I'll disagree...he's moving north now....Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:
Looks like Earl, the Pearl, is moving due north. Not sure he ever makes it to 75W.


Earl is moving NNW, about to cross 75W in a few hours. The steering is too strong, Earl may get extremely close or just clip the Outer Banks. The steering layers really show how strong the high to the east really is.
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Quoting Fiscal:
I know it's never 100% safe, but what're my chances of getting any TS-force winds near Philadelphia, PA (Specifically, Norristown, PA, about 50-60 miles inland)?


Maybe slim? NWS decision package link:
Link
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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.
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553. IKE
Looks like Earl, the Pearl, is moving due north. Not sure he ever makes it to 75W.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
@ #532

if that is the case I dont see how earl will be pushed east. Im definitely a noobie when it comes to this stuff but if the trough stays put or is delayed whats that mean for me in the southeastern tip of CT.

:/
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551. 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.
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
I know it's never 100% safe, but what're my chances of getting any TS-force winds near Philadelphia, PA (Specifically, Norristown, PA, about 50-60 miles inland)?
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Still headed more to the north and there is not a smooth eyewall. This from the guys and gals that are in there, not a long distance satellite.

Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 2nd day of the month at 11:24Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number & Year: 07L in 2010
Storm Name: Earl (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 12
Observation Number: 20
A. Time of Center Fix: 2nd day of the month at 11:01:30Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 29°47'N 74°42'W (29.7833N 74.7W)
B. Center Fix Location: 360 miles (580 km) to the SSE (148°) from Wilmington, NC, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,551m (8,369ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 107kts (~ 123.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 16 nautical miles (18 statute miles) to the ENE (69°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 153° at 128kts (From the SSE at ~ 147.3mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 20 nautical miles (23 statute miles) to the ENE (66°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 935mb (27.61 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 10°C (50°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,042m (9,980ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 18°C (64°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,044m (9,987ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 12°C (54°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Closed Wall
M. Eye Shape & Diameter: Circular with a diameter of 22 nautical miles (25 statute miles)
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section - Remarks That Were Decoded...
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 128kts (~ 147.3mph) in the northeast quadrant at 10:55:00Z
Remarks Section - Additional Remarks...
LOTS OF CLDS BLO IN EYE
FEW SMALL GAPS IN EYEWALL


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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.

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Thanks StormW
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Gaston in pretty bad shape compared to yesterday.
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WINDS...TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE NORTH
CAROLINA COAST WITHIN THE WARNING AREA BY THIS AFTERNOON. EVEN IF
THE CENTER OF EARL REMAINS OFFSHORE...HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ARE
EXPECTED TO OCCUR ON THE OUTER BANKS BY THURSDAY NIGHT.
TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS WILL LIKELY REACH THE COAST FROM
VIRGINIA NORTHWARD TO NEW JERSEY BY LATE THURSDAY NIGHT OR EARLY
FRIDAY.

STORM SURGE...A DANGEROUS STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS
MUCH AS 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING
AREA AND THE LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY. ELSEWHERE WITHIN THE TROPICAL
STORM WARNING AREA...STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH
AS 1 TO 3 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL. NEAR THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL
BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE WAVES.

RAINFALL...ACCUMULATIONS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES...WITH ISOLATED
MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 6 INCHES...ARE EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS OF EASTERN
NORTH CAROLINA INCLUDING THE OUTER BANKS. ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2
INCHES ARE POSSIBLE FARTHER TO THE NORTH ALONG THE IMMEDIATE
MID-ATLANTIC COAST.

SURF...LARGE SWELLS FROM EARL WILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT THE BAHAMAS
AND THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES THROUGH FRIDAY. THESE
SWELLS WILL LIKELY CAUSE DANGEROUS SURF CONDITIONS AND RIP
CURRENTS.
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It's getting silly... from Facebook: "what did one hurricane say to the other?"... answer "I've had my eye on you all night!".

Morning All!!
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First bands coming ashore at the Carolinas.
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'mornin'....
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Earl seems to be fixing himself up but still he doesn't look as spectacular hours ago.
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CHIPS still has Earl making it up to 150 knots! OFCL also has it strengthening for the next 12 hours.

http://wind.mit.edu/~emanuel/storm.html
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:



Yes, and no sign of compression in that western outflow. South to southeast is getting squished a bit. Consistent with current NNW to NW deep layer steering (edit: direction) pointed out by DustinJeff. When that western outflow starts to compress, we can all breathe a little easier.



Post 518 clearly shows the current free and easy outflow on the western side of the storm. That is what I will be watching.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Here is the 300mb level analyzed at initial for 06Z GFS...



sw winds from the trough are out from OK to MI, roughly....

notice the barbs that point NNW/NW out se of NC/SC, then north just south of OBX.

Then here is the +12 forecast:



Earl may very well get darn near due North in motion, as a result of the high to his east, but will be hard pressed to find an easterly component anytime with the next 24 hours.
Yea I couldn't find one either, thought I was going crazy
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LOCATION...30.1N 74.8W
ABOUT 355 MI...575 KM S OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 820 MI...1315 KM SSW OF NANTUCKET MASSACHUSETTS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...145 MPH...230 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNW OR 330 DEGREES AT 18 MPH...30 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...932 MB...27.52 INCHES
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I have a feeling this is going to make a landfall in North Carolina.
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Okay, ya'll are going to have to help me out a bit. I'm a lurking learner but the area I am interested could or could not be in danger.

So- Tappahannock VA is approx 80 miles from say Hampton Roads, pretty close to the beach. How is it that the forecast is for AM showers wind at 10mph then sunny for the rest of the weekend? I understand this storm is going to turn, but I thought it was a large storm- why no forecasts effects?

If this isn't the case there are a lot of little communities around there that are going to be screw-ed.

Member Since: August 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
530. MahFL
Earl is moving NNW.
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fixed that NW eyewall and blew out that dry air
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528. beell
HURRICANE EARL DISCUSSION NUMBER 32
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072010
500 AM EDT THU SEP 02 2010

...AFTER 48 HR...THE
GUIDANCE HAS SHIFTED TO THE LEFT DUE TO CHANGES IN THE INTERACTION
OF EARL WITH A STRONG WESTERLY TROUGH...
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-rb.html

west wall definitely closed
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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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