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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1327. will40
Hi well i got out of dodge they evacuated the island i live on. I am at a high school set up as a shelter on the mainland
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Good morning everyone, Just wanted to let the folks on the East Coast know I'm keeping them in my prayers and I urge all to take Earl seriously and evacuate if told to do so. Don't panic and prepare...
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1325. SQUAWK
Quoting Orcasystems:
940mb and well to PORT of track and not going North... thats bad.






Not really. He is right on or slightly east of the track.

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1323. snowboy
From the forecaster discussion for Buffalo, NY:

... The weak trough of low pressure will try to push into the ridge
today with little success. Hurricane Earl will continue to move up
the eastern Seaboard today around the western periphery of the
Atlantic sub-tropical ridge. Deep layer subsidence over much of the
Middle Atlantic States and New England from the persistent ridge...and
also from the upper tropospheric outflow from Earl will act to repel
and weaken the approaching trough...effectively dissipating it later
today and tonight...

Tonight the trough will continue to wash out...with the remnants
lifting back north away from the area in response to the approach of
hurricane Earl's upper level outflow.
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Another oil rig explosion in the Gulf south of Grand Isle per WWl Radio. Dozens hurt.
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Quoting melwerle:
Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.


I can't seem to post it but here it is.
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Thank you, Hydrus. That's just what I was looking for.
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Based on a couple of the recent satellite images, which showed the inner eyewall shrinking and having a big gap right to its left, combined with the following microwave image taken a few hours ago clearly showing two complete concentric eyewalls, I'm definitely thinking that an EWRC is starting to take place. It will be interesting to see how long it takes this time, and whether or not Earl can ward off the dry and and wind shear while this happens.



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This might save your friends and family some worries.

Press Release
9/1/2010 Contact: Chris Mackey
Raleigh (919) 733-5612
Evacuees Should Register with Red Cross %u2018Safe and Well%u2019 Website

The State Emergency Operations Center recommends that persons evacuating Ocracoke and Hatteras islands because of Hurricane Earl register with the American Red Cross %u201CSafe and Well%u201D program to ensure that friends and family know their plans.

The website is https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/.
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Quoting Kristina40:
Orca, it does seem he has weakened some though so at least there is that.


Weakened yes.. EWRC maybe... its going to have little effect on the built up Power and SLOSH for OBX
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1314. Ryuujin
Quoting Orcasystems:
940mb and well to PORT of track and not going North... thats bad.






That's from the HH out there, right Orca?
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Quoting MahFL:
"THERE HAS BEEN NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE OF EARL
DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS. HOWEVER..MICROWAVE INAGERY SUGGEST THAT
AN EYEWALL REPLACEMENT COULD OCCUR SOON...IN WHICH CASE THE WIND
FIELD WOULD BECOME LARGER"

Oh crap.


Ew. Eyewall replacement...those are dreaded words for sure. Yikes.
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Quoting melwerle:
Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.



Here's the Easter Waper Vapor Loop
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1311. NEwxguy
A hazy hot and humid day up here in Mass.,definitely feels tropical.
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Thank you, Hydrus. That's just what I was looking for.
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Link

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/eaus/flash-wv.html

watch the above vapor loop and its pretty wild it looks like a face turning its head and looking at earl from obove (look to right of earl) and it look like the face is attached to an arm coming off the top of the trough (run it in fast loop)
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Orca, it does seem he has weakened some though so at least there is that.
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1307. RickWPB
Quoting melwerle:
Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.


You mean this one?

Link
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It's good to see it going N. Now we need to see it go E to really stay off shore. Any W wobble is bad.
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1305. Ryuujin
Quoting ConchHondros:


Bingo...I think the NHC did a good job with Earl, and see no significant deviation in the short term.


Well I certainly see a wobble to the west again in the last frame. We'll see how that pans out.
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Link to this site

Link
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940mb and well to PORT of track and not going North... thats bad.




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1302. hydrus
Quoting Floodman:


Where do you see ANY western component to his movement?
Morning Flood...I say it grazes the OBX, Direct hit on Cape Cod.
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Quoting Floodman:


Where do you see ANY western component to his movement?


Bingo...I think the NHC did a good job with Earl, and see no significant deviation in the short term.
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1300. HarryMc
Quoting breald:
Hurricane warnings up for southeastern MA.

To quote our senior chief "OUCH"

Yea. The NHC said Westport around to Hull... that's in Boston Harbor I think.
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Quoting melwerle:
Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.


Here's one, big picture version ... Link
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1298. lakeEFX
I live in northeastern Ohio by Lake Erie, and our local forecast for this area on the NOAA site says that the trough isn't going to push south all day. It's to our northwest at this time, stuck over south Michigan and Indiana, to our west. It's not suppose to go through our area until tomorrow sometime. Maybe it'll make it to the east coast by Friday night, but it's going to have to pick up some speed.
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1297. hydrus
Quoting melwerle:
Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.
Try this one.....Link
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1295. SQUAWK
Based on the HH path and wind barbs I make the eye centered at 75.03W and 30.56N
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Quoting Floodman:


Where do you see ANY western component to his movement?


Five hour RAMSDIS loop shows ever so slight westerly component to movement but that is much less than previous five hours..what will the next five hours be? Your guess as good as mine...
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 379
Quoting tkeith:
all I can say about fear is that most fools I've known have none...

live and learn friend...experience is a great teacher.


It is about respect. Having seen the devastation from storms such as Andrew, Katrina, Wilma, Ike, you have to respect what weather has the potential to do. I would rather leave and say, "well, that was a lot of work for nothing" than be sitting in my house watching the water rise because I had no respect for the havoc these storms can wreak. Be smart people
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1292. ncstorm
Quoting MahFL:
"THERE HAS BEEN NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE OF EARL
DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS. HOWEVER..MICROWAVE INAGERY SUGGEST THAT
AN EYEWALL REPLACEMENT COULD OCCUR SOON...IN WHICH CASE THE WIND
FIELD WOULD BECOME LARGER"

Oh crap.


well that would mean people as far inland as Raleigh may feel TS winds..does that mean that the hurricane force winds will expand as well too?
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1291. unruly
Quoting bassis:


yeah, they just put us in Dover, NH in Tropical Storm Watch
they did?? im in dover
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They eye was here 30.867N 75.083W
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Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.
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Can someone post a animated map of the front vs Earl? I can't find one...don't know where to look.
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Looks like 940mb is the low now and a Cat 2 strength from the HH data.
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The storms are bad enough without the not knowing if family members that stayed are ok. Yah, 30 hrs in evac traffic really stinks but so does the horror of wathcing this from a safe distance and not being able to communicate with the ones that chose to stay and may or maynot be there when you get back!
Member Since: June 28, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 156
I'm curious why there's no hurricane watches for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Especially as it says it'll be a hurricane still, albeit just.

Hedging their bets?
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1284. bassis
Quoting jason2010xxxx:
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM NEW HAVEN CONNECTICUT
TO WEST OF WESTPORT...INCLUDING BLOCK ISLAND.



yeah, they just put us in Dover, NH in Tropical Storm Watch
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Quoting wayfaringstranger:
Oh man, Earl moved west then .8 N and now heading west some more....its like a stair step


Where do you see ANY western component to his movement?
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1282. IKE
Western 2/3's of NC is cloud-free right now...

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Some of the discussions of track and intensity remind me of a couple of Good-ol-Boys down at the gas station, arguing whether Bubba hit the groundhog in the head or @$&. The sucka is still splattered all over the field.
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Jason what are you seeing?
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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.