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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Quoting breald:


I am in southeastern Ma.
I'll say the same thing I told my less mobile grandmother in Johnston RI; buy ice and some decent cold foods just in case, keep an eye out, and I will add if you live near the water have some sand on hand. It could stay offshore and it will move quickly, those 2 things are a plus for you (so long as youre not on the Cape), but if it stays a large storm you will feel some effects so just be prepared. good thing about the NE (having grown up in CT with many a blizzard) is that power companies move alot faster than they do down here. Definitely pay close attention though and if need be get everything ready early on friday. On that note I am out for about 30 minutes. GL everyone
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I'm thinking Gaston and Hermine will be fish storms...

The models aren't showing the weakness from Danielle, Earl, Fiona, closing fast enough to keep any other storms to the south.

If a storm comes by every 5 days and keeps the weakness open, it's a perfect shield to Cv to US storms.


Trolls out early this am
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Quoting smuldy:
I cannot disagree with that....until Earl every storm seemed to do better during the daytime and weaken at night, if I live to be 30 i will never understand that (I would have said 100 but I'm trying to be realistic lol)


LOL.....I am still watching for former TD 5 to reemerge and strenthen to a CAT 5 and blow my roof off...lol
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting flibinite:
I know, NOLA, and sorry, but it's the Ramdis Fast Scan site.

And that's not "dry air entrainment". At 8:45Z Earl is "decent", if struggling a bit, and one hour later a quarter of it's outer eyewall (for lack of a better term) is suddenly almost completely gone? I'm not buying that... not that fast, not that sudden, and with no trail of this incredibly dry air circling around the core to get there, at all.

Jo


Sorry Jo, Blog ate my post! Went to Ramdis and now it wants me to upgrade my Java, which just isn't gonna happen this morning, lol! Did find other views and I do see what you're talking about.
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Trough sure is taking its time!
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8wvir.html
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Earl is still moving a little N of NNW, with a N wobble in the last frame.
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Earl has rounded the Sub tropical ridge and the motion is almost Due North as expected.

Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Thanks, WatchingThisOne, but I can't see that, as my browser is too old to handle it (I'm still on Win XP, too). :(

Jo
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Is there any weather modification technology that you guys know of that can DRY a large area of air quickly, or have you only heard about ones that can moisten the air?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
True, Earl's got that dry crescent in his NW quadrant...but it's far to early to be writing his obituary, or calling him the Second Coming of Hurricane Lili. He has definitely peaked--I'll put good money on that--but it's a little silly to be holding a wake for a 125-knot storm.


Which some early morning trollers are already doing. Ah well. Night (again) all.
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Back to da rack...its too early
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Im not sure that Earl has started a N direction as yet, not enough time on the sat loop and considering Earls strength and distance to the trough is still likely to be stair stepping
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Quoting traumaboyy:


I agree with you.....but as funky a season as we have had??.....who knows what this thing will do now!!
I cannot disagree with that....until Earl every storm seemed to do better during the daytime and weaken at night, if I live to be 30 i will never understand that (I would have said 100 but I'm trying to be realistic lol)
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Quoting smuldy:
are you in the cape? that is where the greatest concern should be, though keep an eye on it in RI or eastern MA.Sort of, trof will hit, just at what angle and when is the question, and right now the NHC has the center passing over the far eastern cape if you look at their 5 day track, again center track is just a maybe so it could stay offshore, but it is slightly west of where it was last night


I am in southeastern Ma.
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True, Earl's got that dry crescent in his NW quadrant...but it's far to early to be writing his obituary, or calling him the Second Coming of Hurricane Lili. He has definitely peaked--I'll put good money on that--but it's a little silly to be holding a wake for a 125-knot storm.
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What gets me is the absolute straight edge of that breakup at about 9 o'clock if you picture the eyewall as a clock. That's a totally straight line of dry air entrainment? Shouldn't it be swirly, or slightly mixed up? It's like someone cut it with knife, irrespective of whether Earl can pull other, more solid parts of its CDO around the eye.

And at the same time this "dry air entrainment happens, the entire rest of the "red" CDO gets all fractured and out of spiral.

Sorry, that just doesn't look like a normal process to me, Lili or no.

Jo
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Quoting flibinite:
I know, NOLA, and sorry, but it's the Ramdis Fast Scan site.

And that's not "dry air entrainment". At 8:45Z Earl is "decent", if struggling a bit, and one hour later a quarter of it's outer eyewall (for lack of a better term) is suddenly almost completely gone? I'm not buying that... not that fast, not that sudden, and with no trail of this incredibly dry air circling around the core to get there, at all.

Jo


Have a peek at the last frame of this MIMIC Java animation from 7:45Z.

MIMIC
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I'm thinking Gaston and Hermine will be fish storms...

The models aren't showing the weakness from Danielle, Earl, Fiona, closing fast enough to keep any other storms to the south.

If a storm comes by every 5 days and keeps the weakness open, it's a perfect shield to Cv to US storms.
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Quoting smuldy:
as the trof comes and picks earl up it will be in a moist environment, and earl is not completely surrounded by dry air, I would be shocked if it went below a 2 before crossing north of LI. I don't think this is lili all over again.


I agree with you.....but as funky a season as we have had??.....who knows what this thing will do now!!
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Yes, Hurricane Earl is the joint 30th most intense hurricane by my reckoning, alongside Hurricane Carmen of 1975 (that was slightly stronger in windspeed) and Hurricane #8 of 1880. (31st if you bump Carmen up due to higher wind speeds).

Curiously, despite all the Category 5s this past decade stretching from Isabel, Earl is the first non-Category 5 to be recorded sub-930mb since 1999.

Makes you wonder whether some of the storms that did go below 930 over history, even in contemporary times, may have been Category 5s as well.
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Quoting Ryuujin:


How you are articulate this early in themorning is beyond me...but nice explanation.
lol articulate is not something im often called past 5am lol but this is the end of the night for me on my zombie shift lol the daytime heat in summer is too much to endure in SFL but the night time is absolutely gorgeous, so my schedule adjusts appropriately lol
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The 1000UTC even looks worse. This is big if you have seen what he looked like all night long.
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Fiona Rainbow



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting SQUAWK:


If he comes ashore in New England or the Maritimes, that will be important to them.


you are correct it will. I just heard that last night on a show and thought it was interesting.
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Quoting smuldy:
as the trof comes and picks earl up it will be in a moist environment, and earl is not completely surrounded by dry air, I would be shocked if it went below a 2 before crossing north of LI. I don't think this is lili all over again.


How you are articulate this early in themorning is beyond me...but nice explanation.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting Legion:
Here is a very in-depth thesis on how dry air entrainment (and to a lesser extent sheer and cooler waters near the coast from Isidore passing there a week earlier) caused Hurricane Lili to be one of the most rapidly weakening storms ever recorded, and was retired for that reason. Lili went from a 145 mph Cat4 to a 90 mph Cat1 in under 8 hours.

Link

I think we are seeing a repeat of that with Earl, dry air getting into the inner core of the system will cause the eyewall to collapse.


Very interesting. Thanks for the link. I just can't believe what he looks like right now. All night it looked like a borderline cat 5 doughnut. This started about what say 2 hours or less?
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Earl is not going down "real fast" nor is his eyeball collapsing. Manfolks are grabbing at straws now. Look at the latest image. That pocket of dry air has almost already been absorbed...
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Quoting Legion:
Here is a very in-depth thesis on how dry air entrainment (and to a lesser extent sheer and cooler waters near the coast from Isidore passing there a week earlier) caused Hurricane Lili to be one of the most rapidly weakening storms ever recorded, and was retired for that reason. Lili went from a 145 mph Cat4 to a 90 mph Cat1 in under 8 hours.

Link

I think we are seeing a repeat of that with Earl, dry air getting into the inner core of the system will cause the eyewall to collapse.
as the trof comes and picks earl up it will be in a moist environment, and earl is not completely surrounded by dry air, I would be shocked if it went below a 2 before crossing north of LI. I don't think this is lili all over again.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Semi-interesting bit (at least for the nerds out there): though Earl's been a major hurricane for 72 hours, while Danielle was one for just 24, and though Earl's been a more powerful storm than his predecessor, Danielle's total A.C.E. was still higher than that of Earl, mostly due to the fact that Danielle was a hurricane for 162 hours, while Earl's been one for just 96. (Danielle spent only 36 hours as a tropical storm, while Earl maintained that status for 96.)

Not to worry, though; as of the 11 EDT TWO, Earl's A.C.E. will surpass Danielle's.
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Quoting Ryuujin:


That he ingested a bit of dry air and will collapse that pocket like he's done to every other one. You're acting like he's going to dissipate before he even makes landfall or gets close to landfall...


No but he is going down and real fast too. I am completely puzzled. I watched him all night as a beautiful doughnut and then he collapses within a couple of hours...very strange
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Quoting breald:


you guys are just full of good news this morning. It looks like I'll be spending my day off preparing.
are you in the cape? that is where the greatest concern should be, though keep an eye on it in RI or eastern MA.
Quoting NOLA2005:


I see what you mean. More "wait and see" and wait on trof
Sort of, trof will hit, just at what angle and when is the question, and right now the NHC has the center passing over the far eastern cape if you look at their 5 day track, again center track is just a maybe so it could stay offshore, but it is slightly west of where it was last night
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Quoting robert88:


Take a look at the latest water vapor or satellite and tell me what you think?


That he ingested a bit of dry air and will collapse that pocket like he's done to every other one. You're acting like he's going to dissipate before he even makes landfall or gets close to landfall...
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Quoting breald:


surge is only a major issue if he makes landfall.


If he comes ashore in New England or the Maritimes, that will be important to them.
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I know, NOLA, and sorry, but it's the Ramdis Fast Scan site.

And that's not "dry air entrainment". At 8:45Z Earl is "decent", if struggling a bit, and one hour later a quarter of it's outer eyewall (for lack of a better term) is suddenly almost completely gone? I'm not buying that... not that fast, not that sudden, and with no trail of this incredibly dry air circling around the core to get there, at all.

Jo
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Quoting smuldy:
mmm tough to call going to be a nailbiter; no direct landfall for OBX=good, danger of direct landfall over provincetown=not so good, and depending on how fast Earl weekends windfield should be pretty wide, one thing that may help the NE out is Earl's speed won't allow him to hang around long, so if it's a clipper its a best case sccenario for a clipper; but again the trof needs to move and needs to deepend slightly


I see what you mean. More "wait and see" and wait on trof
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Earl must be dragging in some dry continental air off the eastern US
ya but this wasn't unexpected; the speed of the storm and the SSTs and shear alone weren't enough to knock it from a solid cat 4 to a cat 2 48hrs out, the dry air will help. I wouldn't read much of anything into it other than it has reached its max and is beginning to weaken; should still be a 3 north of NC and a moderate to strong 2 as it approaches long island and the cape
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Quoting Ryuujin:


Seriously...stop trolling.


Take a look at the latest water vapor or satellite and tell me what you think?
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Quoting smuldy:
track shifted slightly west past the 48 hr mark since this was posted, so anyone on the cape or in eastern MA should expect a higher chance of 50kt winds


you guys are just full of good news this morning. It looks like I'll be spending my day off preparing.
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Crazy thing is Earl was sure fighting it off yesterday and last night with no problems. Too close to land?. Floyd did the same thing but not this fast.
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Quoting robert88:
Goodbye Earl. Isn't weather amazing. I am glad they did a lot of research with Earl. Could pay off down the road.


Seriously...stop trolling.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


... and his speed won't allow him to build as great a surge in front of his path. Faster = better.


surge is only a major issue if he makes landfall.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
track shifted slightly west past the 48 hr mark since this was posted, so anyone on the cape or in eastern MA should expect a higher chance of 50kt winds
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Quoting flibinite:
Please look at the 9:45Z Ramdis Fast Scan image, please. Have any of you ever seen anything like that before? It looks so "straight-line" as if the whole outer eyewall is trying to destroy itself. That's not like any EWRC I've ever seen.

http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_srso.asp?data_folder=goes-r_proving_ground%2Fg1 5_srso_ir&width=600&height=600

Jo


Link didn't work.....
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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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