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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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-rb.html

west wall definitely closed
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


You're right, now is the time to make the plans for your pets, not the last minute. Off to a classroom of little ones. Have a great day all.

People died in south Mississippi trying to save pets during Katrina.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Nothing worse than I.E.

Oh wait... I.E. behind a firewall is worse.

went to firefox, I'll never go back to i.e.
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Quoting LongGlassTube:
Funktop shows the western eyewall building back.
Link


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.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Nothing worse than I.E.

Oh wait... I.E. behind a firewall is worse.
Find it yet?
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Quoting QMiami:
looks like that NE turn expected just as it gets to the OBX hope it doesn't delay




Much further west as a consensus. The track is west of the Benchmark, 40n/70w. Yesterday the consensus was east of the Benchmark.
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going to be to close to pin down a direct hit
might get lucky and not have to deal with the damage of this thing
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Definately looks to be heading more NNNNW than NW.. Earl is gonna head out to sea sooner than later!!! Or am I horribly wrong?
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Hi Storm - Enjoyed listening to you last night on Bobs show - thanks for taking the time to do it and look forward to your thoughts this evening
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Just when it looked like Earl was weakening Link
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Quoting QMiami:
looks like that NE turn expected just as it gets to the OBX hope it doesn't delay





From the map it looks like southern New England could get a direct hit.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Wazzup, blog?

Remember that the easterly component in fwd motion will come from the influence of the trough....

let me go find it.
Educate us Jeff
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looks like that NE turn expected just as it gets to the OBX hope it doesn't delay


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Quoting FLdewey:

I would be careful saying it has changed. If we're talking Red Cross shelters many have worked with local animal agencies to provide a place for animals at shelters. However you still can not bring an animal (in a carrier or not) to the majority of Red Cross shelters. Finding out when you get there is a bad situation, so I guess the best idea (as always) is to plan ahead.


Exactly, that's why you must preregister. Then you'll know which shelter in your area accepts pets and under what requirements.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Funktop shows the western eyewall building back.
Link
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Quoting TheDawnAwakening:
I live on Cape Cod, MA. NECN local news network expects him to remain a category three hurricane as he passes over or near Nantucket, MA.


yep, they extended a hurricane watch as far west a Swansea, MA.
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Quoting Engine2:
Updated:


I'm not nearly so warm and fuzzy about the (edit: deep layer) steering forecasts for 00z and 12z on E-wall (GFS and CMC) as I could be ... but I suspect the models have a much better handle on this than I do. To my eye, we could do with a bit more of a westerly push.
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Quoting FLdewey:

Red Cross shelters do not permit anything but service dogs in general. Some Red Cross shelters have a separate pet shelter attached or nearby.

Now is a good time for everyone else to make plans for your pet. some areas like my county have specific animal shelters in place.


You're right, now is the time to make the plans for your pets, not the last minute. Off to a classroom of little ones. Have a great day all.
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503. 900MB
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.


Thanks storm! Still sweating Montauk, but may just end up with crazy waves and tropical storm conditions. Fingers crossed!
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 660
Quoting Cotillion:
5:00 AM EDT Thu Sep 2
Location: 29.3°N 74.7°W
Max sustained: 145 mph
Moving: NNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 928 mb

Earl is the strongest hurricane since Dean of 2007.

For it is a record in 3 years
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Morning Sir!

Will be waiting patiently for your return
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pretty much on 75


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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Do not take animals to a shelter!

You're kidding! I thought that changed after Katrina? In Louisiana, you take your animals, but they must be in a crate. Too many people will not leave if they can't take their pets with them.

It has changed. Here in Florida, many shelters are set up for animals, but you must register in advance and have paperwork proving the animals have UTD vaccinations.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Do not take animals to a shelter!

You're kidding! I thought that changed after Katrina? In Louisiana, you take your animals, but they must be in a crate. Too many people will not leave if they can't take their pets with them.
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first Rainbands are 125 miles SE of NC..SE NC should see rain come ashore around 10 am this morning
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Quoting SaintPatrick:
all eyes on gaston O_o


At least for those of us south of Earl.
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Updated:
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Quoting weatherwart:


Not good for the islands, Florida or the GOMEX. We'll really have to watch this guy.

Those coordinates are in the middle of the model concensus.
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all eyes on gaston O_o
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488. IKE
Latest GFS shows the northern GOM storm-free through Sept. 18th:)

Gaston looking a little gassed this morning....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
A suggestion that I don't think I have seen on here before (but I could be wrong!).... For those in the path of Earl, do what I am planning to do today - take photographs of your property, inside and out. They could be more helpful than you know. Just a tip from Cape Cod!
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Quoting P451:


I think it may be a wobble as a result of that dry slot interacting with a now re-strengthening eyewall.

We'll know soon enough.


I agree.
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Hurricane Earl:

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Suns Up. Nice high cirrus on the horizon from Earl. Made for a pretty sunrise.

As they say, calm before the storm.

I just cant believe the lack of wind forecasted for the western side. I was watching some news reports and it looked like the wind graphics had the westernside with almost no wind right up to the eyewall.

I cant see that though. Maybe when the others get on someone can explain how the west side would have no windfield now vs looking at the windfield history map from NHC.

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P451, he has had an explosion of deep convection now around his western portion of his eye. I think a wobble west is happening or is about to happen.
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Quoting P451:


I think it may be a wobble as a result of that dry slot interacting with a now re-strengthening eyewall.

We'll know soon enough.


I agree. Last night when his structure began to change he jogged north. This morning looks the same. His eye shrank when the dry air invaded and he looks to have jogged north. The last couple of frames looks like a beginning of A north north west track again sadly for the ppl in the eastern part of my state. (North Carolina)
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Quoting Chicklit:
Gaston has slowed to a crawl.
This is from the 5 AM Discussion.
Not good news for the Caribbean as it is forecast to drop a little further south.

GASTON CONTINUES TO DECELERATE AS IT FEELS THE EFFECTS OF A DEEP LAYER TROUGH TO ITS NORTH... AND THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS NOW 280/8. GASTON IS FORECAST TO SLOW DOWN EVEN MORE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS THE STORM REMAINS IN WEAK STEERING CURRENTS.

BY 48-72 HOURS...GLOBAL MODELS SHOW SOME MID-LEVEL RIDGING BUILDING TO THE NORTH OF GASTON AND THAT SHOULD STEER THE SYSTEM WESTWARD OR
EVEN WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD AT A SLIGHTLY FASTER SPEED. THE OFFICIAL TRACK FORECAST IS A LITTLE SLOWER AND SLIGHTLY TO THE SOUTH OF THE PREVIOUS ONE IN BEST AGREEMENT WITH THE MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INITIAL 02/0900Z 13.5N 38.2W 35 KT
12HR VT 02/1800Z 13.6N 39.0W 40 KT
24HR VT 03/0600Z 13.8N 40.1W 45 KT
36HR VT 03/1800Z 14.0N 41.2W 50 KT
48HR VT 04/0600Z 14.2N 42.5W 55 KT
72HR VT 05/0600Z 14.6N 45.9W 65 KT
96HR VT 06/0600Z 15.0N 50.0W 75 KT
120HR VT 07/0600Z 16.0N 55.0W 85 KT


Not good for the islands, Florida or the GOMEX. We'll really have to watch this guy.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884


Models as of 2 a.m.
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I think Earl could be 100 knots as he nears Nantucket, MA and perhaps makes landfall with the island. I will at least be in the western eyewall of Earl, any NNE movement as he nears us means we are in the eye of Earl.
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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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