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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ok blog takin a nap, got real quiet, really fast
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125. xcool
fatlady99 lol
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Quoting xcool:
fatlady99 actually You Can Do It

visualize! lol!
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Latest satellite loops indicate the system finally completed it's westward jog/wobble & I think should now follow a more 345 NNW degree motion. It also appears the storm has topped out. Very impressive indeed. Not a bad run for good old Earl. 5am advisory should mirror central pressure drop at 930mb & perhaps designate 145mph winds at it's height.


Or perhaps not...
The storm, Earl has not yet reached the Gulf Streams warm/hot waters which are currently in excess of 30 C, and the expected shear from the SW has not arrived and is not in front of Earl. The wobbles will continue, more North, then more West repeating until the storm track runs the full edge of the A/B Atlantic High pressure ridges westernmost end, which is itself building north and west even as Earl advances. The trough which was expected to pick up Earl "soon" has been hung up itself by a ULL which dropped along its SE flank into the GOM while Earl pushed the VA based high pressure ridge back into the very trough expected to pick Earl up. Note that the long term cone for Earl is an "S" cone which means the trough is not expected to take Earl out to sea, but instead will only increase his rate of speed and alter his direction until he curves back Westward towards ME and Nova Scotia. In short Earl has lots more energy to pick up from the waters in his path and no real block to more him off his current track..until he runs out of West push from the Atlantic A/B high.
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HurricaneEarl's heading had turned westward to 11degrees west of NorthNorthWest
from its previous heading of 1.5degrees west of NorthNorthWest
H.Earl's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions was 22mph(~35.4km/h)

01Sep . 06amGMT - - 23.5n70.7w - - 135mph - - 940mb - - NHC.Adv.#27A
01Sep . 09amGMT - - 24.0n71.2w - - 125mph - - 941mb - - #28
01Sep . 12pmGMT - - 24.5n71.6w - - 125mph - - 943mb - - #28A
01Sep . 03pmGMT - - 25.1n72.1w - - 125mph - - 943mb - - #29
01Sep . 06pmGMT - - 25.7n72.7w - - 125mph - - 941mb - - #29A
H.Earl becomes Cat.4 again
01Sep . 09pmGMT - - 26.3n73.3w - - 135mph - - 941mb - - #30
02Sep . 12amGMT - - 27.2n73.5w - - 135mph - - 941mb - - #30A
02Sep . 03amGMT - - 27.8n73.8w - - 140mph - - 932mb - - #31
02Sep . 06amGMT - - 28.6n74.4w - - 140mph - - 932mb - - #31A

Copy&paste 23.5n70.7w, 24.0n71.2w, 24.5n71.6w, 25.1n72.1w, 25.7n72.7w-26.3n73.3w, 26.3n73.3w-27.2n73.5w, 27.2n73.5w-27.8n73.8w, 27.8n73.8w-28.6n74.4w, gso, 28.6n74.4w-33.84n78.6w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the last 12hours.

Using straightline projection upon the speed&heading averaged
over the 3hours spanning the last two reported positions:
~19hours from now to NorthMyrtleBeach, SouthCarolina
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121. xcool
blacout about to end soon
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Earl is most definitely moving northwest, but that northerly turn is about to begin.
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If gaston does and that is an If, I guess I got 5 days to make preps and watch before going back to work and getting a few more days off
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North carolina is going to be hit hard by earl. Lots of destructon possible! The northeast and midatlantic are used to windstorms passing thru. They see noreasters every year.
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117. xcool
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Quoting RecordSeason:
I think he is moving at 315 degrees or less right now.

Also, satellite shows earl is still intesifying slowly, because pinks are still wrapping around the eyewall.


didn't the data show the pressure dropping? I sort of thought Earl would be just starting to weaken about now...
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If Earl is at 75.6W when I wake up I'm going to get really worried...good night!
Member Since: February 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 214
114. xcool
fatlady99 actually You Can Do It
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10% chance of Earl's eye going over the outer banks according to Dr. Carver's blog.

How many on here would like to bet on that at odds of 9 to 1? I'd have the pension fund on it.
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HH reporting again. Link
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Quoting xcool:
fatlady99 i'm nice all day.;)


hehe. good for you. maybe someday i'll be that good. i work on it.
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Just some simple math here:

At 11PM Earl was at 27.8 73.8

It was forecasted by the NHC to be at 30.0 75.1 at 8AM (9HRs from the initial position)

In 3HRs it went .8N and .6W (28.6 74.4)

If it maintains that heading and speed for another 6hrs, it will be at 30.2 75.6.
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108. xcool
btwntx08 yep game onnn
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106. xcool
fatlady99 i'm nice all day.;)
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Kinda off topic, but if Earl takes the west side track, and he's been a port storm all the way, stop and think for a moment. A landfall would be much better, but with no landfall, I believe this storms damage will top the list on all accounts except loss of life, hopefully!
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

?


I remember he posted that earlier today before the 11 pm advisory as well.. that or my mind is playing tricks on me
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Latest satellite loops indicate the system finally completed it's westward jog/wobble & I think should now follow a more 345 NNW degree motion. It also appears the storm has topped out. Very impressive indeed. Not a bad run for good old Earl. 5am advisory should mirror central pressure drop at 930mb & perhaps designate 145mph winds at it's height.


not with the sat im looking at...
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Quoting xcool:
fatlady99 .i seeing you be nice about time.


i'm very nice. so are you when you want to be. :)
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,
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Latest satellite loops indicate the system finally completed it's westward jog/wobble & I think should now follow a more 345 NNW degree motion. It also appears the storm has topped out. Very impressive indeed. Not a bad run for good old Earl. 5am advisory should mirror central pressure drop at 930mb & perhaps designate 145mph winds at it's height.

?
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Quoting cheetaking:


Here's a link to a satellite image that is still being updated. Link


I'm using that one too
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that was odd it thing like there back they may have had too go back out and make other pass
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Hunters used so gas .
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Quoting leo305:


well teh satellite hasn't udpated for an hour..

so I myself don't know how the storm looks currently, hopefully they're ok


Here's a link to a satellite image that is still being updated. Link
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 162
ok looks like noaa is takeing overe
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Wow...Earl looks great. Concerned for OBX and NE. They may get lucky. But now that he is north of my latitude Im very focused on Gaston..
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Latest satellite loops indicate the system finally completed it's westward jog/wobble & I think should now follow a more 345 NNW degree motion. It also appears the storm has topped out. Very impressive indeed. Not a bad run for good old Earl. 5am advisory should mirror central pressure drop at 930mb & perhaps designate 145mph winds at it's height.


what satellite loop are you looking at?
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anybody think gaston may go into the GOM?
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fatlady99 .i seeing you be nice about time.
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TopWave Follow recommendations of local emergency management
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Quoting TopWave:
I just woke up to some large waves starting to pound the beach in Sandbridge, VA. That is right on the border of NC/VA south of Virginia Beach. Was wondering if you guys think its safe to stay here with the storm taking a more westward track. J


Right now stay where you are. Sandbridge however needs to be monitored. I will talk to Jeremy Wheeler (WAVY) via email before I head out tonight. Get his take on Sandbridge area.

-Zeec
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that was sure a fast MISSION they sould be up there for at lest 6 too 12hr
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Quoting xcool:
fatlady99 .no


sorry
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
Just so the HHunters are safe. The thought of losing one of them is unthinkable.

ya, it is. those folks are so amazing.
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fatlady99 .no
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too much banking on earl heading out to sea. i saw that a lot of folks aren't evacuating the islands in NC. not enough people respect the power of our oceans.
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well looks like the MISSION got
ABORTED
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I just woke up to some large waves starting to pound the beach in Sandbridge, VA. That is right on the border of NC/VA south of Virginia Beach. Was wondering if you guys think its safe to stay here with the storm taking a more westward track. J
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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.