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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Goodbye Earl. Isn't weather amazing. I am glad they did a lot of research with Earl. Could pay off down the road.
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Sigh, I'm not sure what link to use, as that one doesn't work. Hopefully someone can provide one that does. But just look at the northwest portion of the inner circulation, how abrupt that collapse/intrusion is. That doesn't look right or normal to me, at least. :(

Jo
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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.
agreed
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945UTC shows dry air really getting entrained in Earl now and he looks really ragged. I didn't expect Earl to weaken this quick. The dry air is coming through the NW side and getting pulled into the eyewall.
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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


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

Link

Jo
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Quoting NOLA2005:
Legion, Smuldy,
Thanks for the input! Either way is better for East Coast.....right?
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
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Quoting DestinJeff:


I used "Iked" to describe a NHC track that gets progressively pushed west ...

he stole that made-up verb and used it in a bad way.


I shoulda figured you'd be first. LOL Top o'de morning to you Aqua.
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Quoting aquak9:
g'morning all

from squawk recon post

whoa

Maximum Flight Level Wind: 141kts (~ 162.3mph) in the northeast quadrant at 7:10:50Z


Mornin Aqua!!.........how high is that?? 8-10K feet??

You missed the Krispy Kreme Donuts earlier....sorry!!
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Hey all. Just woke up fora bit. So to me it looks like Earl is still headed NW/N-NW and will end up crossing 75 W pretty much the same time it hits 30 N. Am I correct in this or a little off? And if so, what does that bode for NCand the East. Coast?
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g'morning all

from squawk recon post

whoa

Maximum Flight Level Wind: 141kts (~ 162.3mph) in the northeast quadrant at 7:10:50Z
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360. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #36
TROPICAL STORM KOMPASU (T1007)
18:00 PM JST September 2 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea Of Japan

At 9:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Kompasu (996 hPa) located at 39.8N 131.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east northeast at 18 knots

Dvorak Intensity:

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
90 NM from the center in western quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 41.5N 139.3E - Tropical Depression
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45540
Legion, Smuldy,
Thanks for the input! Either way is better for East Coast.....right?
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Quoting smuldy:
way too soon to tell and on the individual runs no consistent model agreement yet; does have a shot of staying south but need to see what kind of ridge builds back in after fiona and earl clear out



Okay Thanks
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Look for just a bit more west than current starting around 30N, but only for a short time
given steering, agreed; should still brush the OBX, but as even NHC 'center track' shows going to be an extremely close call for SE NE
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Good morning Ike, DJ, MissNadia. Good to see the good guys in here this morning. Sure hope this monster goes more to the East. Hey Ike, I saw in the last blog they have a new technical term for hurricane strength and it is "IKE." Something like Integrated Kinetic Energy. You are sure popular!!!! I see that jerk lawyer has taken to using a new adjective "iked" to describe downcasting. He just doesn't have a clue. Typical lawyer - if that is what he really is.
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Quoting breald:


why would it turn east now if the trough is not even close yet? I am so confused.


LOL!!...join the club....I have been confused all season!!
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Quoting OffshoreRep:
Someone said earlier that Gaston was heading for the Bahamas. The models look like it will stay much furthur south than that. What do you guys think?
way too soon to tell and on the individual runs no consistent model agreement yet; does have a shot of staying south but need to see what kind of ridge builds back in after fiona and earl clear out
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Someone said earlier that Gaston was heading for the Bahamas. The models look like it will stay much furthur south than that. What do you guys think?
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I gotta give the NHC their props. I know long range they are rough sometimes but when it comes to 36 hours they are getting darned good. This thing is almost spot on their 36 hours prediction. Last night everyone was screaming that if Earl hits 75 before 30 the coast was in trouble. Well as predicted by NHC it looks like it will paint an X on 75 / 30 or maybe east of it. I am impressed.

Living in Va. Beach and feeling like this is gonna miss by a long shot.
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Quoting breald:


why would it turn east now if the trough is not even close yet? I am so confused.
it isn't....yet; it will, but it is due north for now; look at the IR sat loop and you can see the extended southern oblong on the previous frame that flips as teh center turns and creates an appearance of a jog east when actually it's just the eyewall loosening as the storm begins to weaken slightly
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Quoting Legion:


I said yesterday afternoon that if I had to bet money,I'd bet on it never crossing 75W, it was close but it never made it there. It'll be all due N and NNE and then NE from here on out.


why would it turn east now if the trough is not even close yet? I am so confused.
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Quoting NOLA2005:
Looks here like a slight wobble to NE. What do ya'll think?
looked like that to the naked eye for me too, but when i slowed it down to manual frame forward, it's an oblong eye creating an illusion of east, it's due north the last 4 frames, at 74.5
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Quoting traumaboyy:


Is the eye losing diameter or clouding up??


Yeah, he's starting to lose shape.

I concur that this is as probably as strong as he's going to get.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Quoting Cotillion:


You've only taken into account Cat 5s.

A few Cat 4s stronger as well, as earlier illustrated.

He'd be about 30th.


Is the eye losing diameter or clouding up??
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Earl's 1 mb below the 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane, so that makes him the 20th strongest Atlantic hurricane in terms of central pressure.


You've only taken into account Cat 5s.

A few Cat 4s stronger as well, as earlier illustrated.

He'd be about 30th.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
336. IKE
Floater on Earl through 915UTC...Link
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Flow around the High to his east gives Earl the northerly motion, but it also looks strong enough to his north to allow for a hair or two of West motion ... plus he his attracted somewhat to the weakness, depicted here over KY/TN

yup, time to start calling that trof forrest so we can yell the obligatory gumpism at it?
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Earl lies equal 9th on the list of Cat 4 hurricanes:

1932 Cuban Hurricane, 915mb.
Opal, 919mb.
Gloria, 920mb.
Floyd, 921mb.
1910 Cuban Hurricane, 924mb.
Gabrielle, 927mb.
Esther, 927mb.
Florida Keys 1919, 927mb.
Carmen, 928mb.
Earl, 928mb.
Felix, 929mb. (1995 version).
Inez, 929mb.
Carol, 929mb.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Looks here like a slight wobble to NE. What do ya'll think?
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Buoy 20 miles SE of Cape Fear NC

Frying Pan Tower
NDBC - Station 41013 - Frying Pan Shoals, NC Buoy Observations
Station 41013 - Frying Pan Shoals, NC Buoy
September 2, 2010 4:50 am EDT
Location: 33.436N 77.743W
Wind Direction: NE (50°)
Wind Speed: 17.5 knots
Wind Gust: 19.4 knots
Significant Wave Height: 6.9 ft
Dominant Wave Period: 16 sec
Average Period: 7.1 sec
Mean Wave Direction: SE (127°)
Atmospheric Pressure: 29.91 in (1012.8 mb)
Pressure Tendency: -0.06 in (-2.2 mb)
Air Temperature: 81.5°F (27.5°C)
Dew Point: 68.9°F (20.5°C)
Water Temperature: 82.9°F (28.3°C)

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.
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Last image at 915 shows Earl might be going down fast. Dry air is disrupting the NW side and almost in the eye. It is just to the outside of the eyewall. Looks ragged too. Crazy how things work in the tropics. One thing about Earl is when he strengthens it's insanely fast and when it weakens it's almost the same. Going fairly E of the Banks and the NE off the coast. You can't get any luckier with this situation.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
300mb stream shows the leading edge of trough sw-erlies back over IL, extending down to the TX panhandle.

Note the weakness between Central OH and Eastern PA....Earl headed in thatt direction for now. Also note the flow toward the NNE on the east side of where Earl is (right side of image)

click to enlarge


Nice analysis. This could become problematic especially if Earl does not drastically slow down.
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From the looks of the center fix, it appears that Earl is heading more to the North now -- I hope!!!

Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 2nd day of the month at 09:11Z
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: 15
A. Time of Center Fix: 2nd day of the month at 8:49:00Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 29°12'N 74°35'W (29.2N 74.5833W)
B. Center Fix Location: 332 miles (535 km) to the NNE (31°) from Nassau, Bahamas.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,512m (8,241ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 87kts (~ 100.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 9 nautical miles (10 statute miles) to the WNW (285°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 15° at 99kts (From the NNE at ~ 113.9mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 10 nautical miles (12 statute miles) to the WNW (286°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 932mb (27.52 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 12°C (54°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,058m (10,033ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 22°C (72°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,062m (10,046ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 10°C (50°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 30 nautical miles (35 statute miles)
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section - Remarks That Were Decoded...
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 141kts (~ 162.3mph) in the northeast quadrant at 7:10:50Z
Maximum Flight Level Wind Outbound: 118kts (~ 135.8mph) in the southeast quadrant at 9:00:50Z
Maximum Surface (likely estimated by SFMR) Wind Outbound: 91kts (~ 104.7mph) in the southeast quadrant at 8:59:50Z
Remarks Section - Additional Remarks...
INFRQT MDT TURBC IN NW EYEWALL



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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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