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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It looks like there is some dry air wrapping into the northwestern side of the storm. The Eye is looking a bit more ragged and asymmetrical and there is a significant warming of the cloudtops in the NW quadrant. It could also be undergoing an EWRC, but it likely won't be able to complete it before increasing shear takes its toll if that is indeed the case. Either way, it looks like Earl has peaked and is now beginning to weaken.

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Quoting AtmosphericWrath:
EWRC nearing?

Not yet, Earl has turbulance within the eyewall..Makes for a elliptical eyewall.
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.
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Quoting TropicalWatch:


Interesting article, yeah? You from Winnipeg, too like me?


Yay. 'Peggers are Everywhere! haha
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EWRC nearing?
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000
URNT12 KNHC 020730
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL072010
A. 02/07:05:40Z
B. 28 deg 47 min N
074 deg 32 min W
C. 700 mb 2488 m
D. 104 kt
E. 245 deg 6 nm
F. 333 deg 111 kt
G. 243 deg 8 nm
H. 929 mb
I. 11 C / 3051 m
J. 22 C / 3057 m
K. 10 C / NA
L. CLOSED WALL
M. E34/32/22
N. 12345 / 7
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF300 1207A EARL OB 10
MAX OUTBOUND AND MAX FL WIND 141 KT NE QUAD 07:10:50Z
MAX SFC WIND OUTBOUND 117 KTS NW QUAD 07:10:10Z
INFRQT MDT TURBC SW AND NE EYEWALLS
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The trough that has been affecting us up north, has been going on for 2 or more days, and isn't going anywhere fast. More rain tomorrow= more moving of buckets around for me. (new roof will happen soon according to roofer-guy).
Anyway, this is the northern part of the trough which will eventually turn Earl to the northeast. Seems to be moving very slowly. I'm wondering when the dynamics will kick in. Getting worried for the Eastern seaboard. TIA for any input on this trough.
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Quoting bcycsailor:




I'm in awe too. Just read this really light read in our local paper about how far forecasting has come and how much is uncertain. As a side note, if I were a local met right now, I'd be lamenting that this was the wrong week/month to quit doing heroin AND OR smoking...(courtesy AIRPLANE!)

Anyway, if interested, said article can be found here:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/breakingnews/forget-gut-instinct-computer-models-and-mathema tics-tell-forecasters-where-storms-will-go-102023428.html

sorry, just learning how to create links...how clumsy...oof.


Interesting article, yeah? You from Winnipeg, too like me?
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216. xcool
hm
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Quoting VegasRain:


No. The lines are just an extrapolated heading.. If Earl were to not turn at all (which is next to impossible) then it would move towards Cape Lookout, the southern most islands of the Outer Banks.. However, the storm will turn towards the North, and at it's current position, will likely completely miss all the islands. The eye will probably parallel the coast, about 25-50 miles offshore. That will still bring hurricane force winds to the islands, but the core should remain offshore.

If Earl waits till later in the day Thursday, NC is in a world of hurt..

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 200 AM EDT...0600 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE EARL WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 28.6 NORTH...LONGITUDE 74.4 WEST. EARL IS MOVING
TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR. THIS MOTION IS
EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THIS MORNING WITH A TURN TO THE NORTH LATER
TODAY.
ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CORE OF THE HURRICANE WILL
APPROACH THE NORTH CAROLINA COAST BY LATE THURSDAY...AND MOVE NEAR
OR OVER THE OUTER BANKS OF NORTH CAROLINA THURSDAY NIGHT. THE
CENTER IS EXPECTED TO PASS NEAR OR OFFSHORE OF THE DELMARVA
PENINSULA ON FRIDAY.

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I suspect surface winds 150mph.
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Quoting AtmosphericWrath:
Amazing what those super warm Gulf Stream waters will do for a Cane.

Earl is making a bee-line for southern NC.

This is NOT good folks..
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Quoting jason2010xxxx:
hurricane earl its still moving NNW at 19 mph..its look like he is going to hit land soon in NORTH CAROLINA its better go north soon


Yes...Won't be long before Rain Bands come ashore!!
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Do you believe that Earl will take that projected path inland S of Cape Hatteras?

I admit, I do and it frightens me, Earl is almost a CAT 5..


No. The lines are just an extrapolated heading.. If Earl were to not turn at all (which is next to impossible) then it would move towards Cape Lookout, the southern most islands of the Outer Banks.. However, the storm will turn towards the North, and at it's current position, will likely completely miss all the islands. The eye will probably parallel the coast, about 25-50 miles offshore. That will still bring hurricane force winds to the islands, but the core should remain offshore.
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Amazing what those super warm Gulf Stream waters will do for a Cane.
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Peak (10 sec. Avg.)
Flight Level Wind 140 knots
(~ 161.0 mph)
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Flight level winds in the NE quadrant were 140KTS/161MPH!!

07:10:30Z 28.967N 74.267W 696.2 mb
(~ 20.56 inHg) 2,645 meters
(~ 8,678 feet) - - From 143° at 132 knots
(From the SE at ~ 151.8 mph) 10.8°C*
(~ 51.4°F*) -* 140 knots
(~ 161.0 mph) 111 knots
(~ 127.6 mph) 16 mm/hr
(~ 0.63 in/h
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I hope it does turn northward but I fear it will not. As I have said for 3 days now, I see a landfall between Jacksonville and Morehead City
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HH peak flight-level winds: 161 mph (8700 ft in the air, of course...)

Estimated surface winds have also increased from 123 mph to 128 mph since the last update.
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Quoting Bordonaro:

That is a CAT 5 pressure, the same as Andrew!!!!

Its creating its own environment. Man nailbiter!
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203. xcool


Gaston, looks pretty ragged rigth now ..
...
While Gaston continues moved west make way in to Caribbean .
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Quoting VegasRain:


I just put together a quick satellite composition over the last 6 hours. The last image is the latest image after satellite blackout.

You can see that Earl has begun a turn more to the NNW in the last 3 hours. It could be a wobble or the expected northward turn beginning. I'd say that given the eye's location it is increasingly unlikely that Earl will cross the Outer Banks.

Do you believe that Earl will take that projected path inland S of Cape Hatteras?

I admit, I do and it frightens me, Earl is almost a CAT 5..
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Quoting traumaboyy:


I know.....we all have our little "Inner Cantore" and it is very easy to want to be part of something so amazing.....and the energy this beast is releasing every second must be incredible!!!



I went through Fran and Floyd both. Each had it's own characteristics. I must say, it was one hell of a ride even from the inland.
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Quoting traumaboyy:


I know.....we all have our little "Inner Cantore" and it is very easy to want to be part of something so amazing.....and the energy this beast is releasing every second must be incredible!!!


If Cantore is spotted in your town, you better run for the hills. lol

(That's a generic you btw).
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Quoting Kristina40:
I'm in Panama City as well.


Hello Kristina40...I believe we have spoken before...
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Quoting xcool:
traumaboyy .cat meow meow .lol


Allright Meow....Don't start that again.....
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Quoting btwntx08:
07:05:30Z 28.783N 74.533W 696.4 mb
(~ 20.56 inHg) 2,531 meters
(~ 8,304 feet) 925.0 mb
(~ 27.32 inHg) - From 36° at 4 knots
(From the NE at ~ 4.6 mph)
the eye

That is a CAT 5 pressure, the same as Andrew!!!!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It's a dangerous practice I know. But I love it as much as I do forecasting.


I know.....we all have our little "Inner Cantore" and it is very easy to want to be part of something so amazing.....and the energy this beast is releasing every second must be incredible!!!
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I just put together a quick satellite composition over the last 6 hours. The last image is the latest image after satellite blackout.

You can see that Earl has begun a turn more to the NNW in the last 3 hours. It could be a wobble or the expected northward turn beginning. I'd say that given the eye's location it is increasingly unlikely that Earl will cross the Outer Banks.
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I've said it before in previous seasons and I'll say it again, Earl's path is already decided as a result of the GRAND PLAN of DESTINY.

I also like the new Weather Channel tropical team.
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I'm in Panama City as well.
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188. xcool
Earl close to cat 5 wowowo
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187. xcool
traumaboyy .cat meow meow .lol
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Latest reading from HH:

924.8 mb

Another 2 mb drop since the last flight at 1:30 am.
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185. xcool
btwntx08 no problem sir
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Quoting xcool:
i need a beer :)~~~


If neither of our homes (NOLA or Panama City) get blown away by Gaston....I will buy you a Beer in November at the Cat's Meow!!
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***************LOOK AT THIS********************************

07:05:00Z 28.767N 74.567W 696.7 mb
(~ 20.57 inHg) 2,526 meters
(~ 8,287 feet) 924.8 mb
(~ 27.31 inHg) - From 343 at 22 knots
(From the NNW at ~ 25.3 mph) 21.8C
(~ 71.2F) 10.8C
(~ 51.4F) 28 knots
(~ 32.2 mph) 43 knots*
(~ 49.4 mph*) 1 mm/hr*
(~ 0.04 in/hr*)
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Quoting traumaboyy:


Remember Kori....Ron White Said it best......

It's not THAT...the wind is a Blowin......it's WHAT the Wind is a Blowin that gets you in a Hurricane...


It's a dangerous practice I know. But I love it as much as I do forecasting.
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Quoting traumaboyy:


lolol
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179. xcool
traumaboyy lmao
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178. xcool
i need a beer :)~~~
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Quoting fatlady99:


No, my Uncle Earl, actually. He was a sumo wrestler. First cracker sumo champion.



I have a new HERO!!......lol....My JV basketball coach told me I aught to take up Sumo.....lol
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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.