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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There will be a broadcast tonight on Hurricane Hollow's Barometer Bob internet radio show with call ins and a chat room tonight at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Bob answers questions posted on the moderated chat. Just go to Link
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1126. CJ5
I am starting to be convinced that the OBX will get a glancing strike at best. Other than wishing, there is not much by way of steering that is going to push him further W. He has a few wobbles left and maybe a slight drift to the W but in the end he will start to drift NNE then NE. That doesn't mean there should not be concern for damage.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Children

During a disaster, your family may have to leave your home and daily routine. Children may become anxious, confused, or frightened. It is important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears.

Children depend on daily routines: They wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When emergencies or disasters interrupt this routine, children may become anxious.

In a disaster, they'll look to you and other adults for help. How you react to an emergency gives them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, a child may become more scared. They see our fear as proof that the danger is real. If you seem overcome with a sense of loss, a child may feel their losses more strongly.

Children's fears also may stem from their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. A child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.

Feelings of fear are healthy and natural for adults and children. But as an adult, you need to keep control of the situation. When you're sure that danger has passed, concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking the child what's uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family's recovery activities will help them feel that their life will return to "normal." Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.

Contact your local Red Cross for assistance with disaster related mental health assistance. Having served many years as an American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Worker I know the strain a diaster can take on families. Stick together!
(tear) you are so right. i remember after Katrina sitting in a hotel in sardis ms. with my 4yr. old and one on the way trying to pretend everything was cool. while the fam. went to a church to eat i stayed back cuz i needed a moment alone. i got in the shower and started to cry my eyes out. that was the 1st. time i was left alone with my thoughts, and i crashed. then my daughter comes walking in to potty. i put my face in the shower to hide it, but she knew. we hugged and cried, but didn't say a word. some people just don't know that it's not just death, and destroyed property you have to get through. the emotional damage is much worse. its long lasting. i think permanent. 5yrs. later we are still recovering from all the things that were destroyed.
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Quoting LongIslandXpress38:


Southeast..

Impressive answer, did you think of that all by yourself?
Thanks anyway
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Water Vapor Link

Link
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Quoting ncstorm:
Okay now they are saying here locally that inland counties like cumberland, bladen, sampson will also feel ts force winds who are not under any watches or warnings..this is not looking good at all..


I have been wondering how long it would take them to put up inland TS warnings.
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Love CNN's headline on the front page of its site: Earl gets stronger, may near U.S. coast tonight

Really? D'oh.
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Quoting texascoastres:
unfortunately, we are all watching this unfold and all the begging and pleading to people to leave will convince some but not all. the reality is; if they have never been thru this they really don't know what to expect and the danger of the situation they are in. That "it wont happen here mentality" has bitten many in the rear and pocket book. I sincerely am praying for the folks that think they got no worries!


My grandmother and uncle are both refusing to leave their homes that sit on the Pamlico Sound. They've been through this before and say they'll go through it again. I hope I'm not attending any funerals next week.
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1117. ncstorm
Okay now they are saying here locally that inland counties like cumberland, bladen, sampson will also feel ts force winds who are not under any watches or warnings..this is not looking good at all..
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1116. aimetti
is the trough pushing north?
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1115. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
north-northwest
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Quoting LongIslandXpress38:


Southeast..


*POOF*
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unfortunately, we are all watching this unfold and all the begging and pleading to people to leave will convince some but not all. the reality is; if they have never been thru this they really don't know what to expect and the danger of the situation they are in. That "it wont happen here mentality" has bitten many in the rear and pocket book. I sincerely am praying for the folks that think they got no worries!
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1112. tkeith
1099. DestinJeff 9:23 AM CDT on September 02, 2010

Correct me if I'm wrong Jeff, but a due north track still means a glancing blow from a cat4...

still needs the easterly component to to miss the OBX.
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Quoting oracle28:
more good news from Reuters...

Direct full hit to US shoreline is not forecast
Um, right. Reuters read the 8AM update, looked at the map, and posted it to the wire.

If you're reading this blog, you know more than Reuters.
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1106. breald
Quoting tkeith:
1025. LADobeLady 9:03 AM CDT on September 02, 2010

Both of my dogs have chips LADobe...They are the first thing I load in the car. I DONT ride out Hurricanes.

I watch them from Arkansas (while listening to banjo music)...lol



Me to Keith. I would NEVER leave them behind.
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 38 Comments: 5303


Look at the bend in that ridge to the WNW of the high that earl produced that isnt avery good sign you think? may cause a more WNW motion or am i looking at that wrong?
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Quoting oracle28:
more good news from Reuters...

Direct full hit to US shoreline is not forecast


That is good.
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In Currituck County, NC, Mandatory evac for guests? This may be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I am soundside at a high elevation.... .. ... I understand oceanside... Now I get to sit in traffic as the storm hits... great idea.
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Quoting oracle28:


Phew...very glad it's stopped moving west.


Which way is it going now please?
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1098. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Earl's NW eyewall looks like it might be under the gun:



yup looking like it did early this morning
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more good news from Reuters...

Direct full hit to US shoreline is not forecast
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1096. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
07L/MH/E/C4
MARK
30.95N/74.95W
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
remember a hurricane can strip the land clean including all life so that nothing remains but the dirt and water


Sounds like something they should do with the Leafs :)
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1094. Patrap
Skittles with Strong Coffee is not bkfst the Wife says's..

.so Im gona split to the Local Eatery for some grub.

BBL
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Phew...very glad it's stopped moving west.
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1092. hydrus
Quoting gwhite713:


I do sir. It was heart breaking. I drive a rig and delivered alot of relief supplies. The city has spirit rivaled by none. With no where near the population it once had, it still managed to come together, rebuild and produce a championship NFL team. Who else can boast this? =)
I dont need to add anything. You summed it up well..:)
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1091. hydrus
Quoting gwhite713:


I do sir. It was heart breaking. I drive a rig and delivered alot of relief supplies. The city has spirit rivaled by none. With no where near the population it once had, it still managed to come together, rebuild and produce a championship NFL team. Who else can boast this? =)
I dont need to add anything. You summed it up well..:)
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1089. angiest
Unfortunately this has to be said.

If you are staying, or come back to a home that has no power and are using a generator. For goodness' sake, please do not put the generator inside your house! I remember someone in Houston (maybe this happened more than once) killing their kids days after Ike because they had the generator inside so it or the gasoline wouldn't get stolen.
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1088. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
remember a hurricane can strip the land clean including all life so that nothing remains but the dirt and water
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To everyone in the areas that may be affected by Earl, be safe. I like hurricanes, but don't wish anything bad on anyone.
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Quoting chicagowatcher:
Sorry, just too funny. Stephanie Abrams, explaining a water vapor map describes it as:

"If the atmosphere is like a hamburger, we're now looking at the lettuce and tomato layer..."

Really gotta enjoy TWC...


Looks good in those tight jeans,,,lol
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Quoting Cotillion:
21.) Hurricane Beulah, 1967; 923mb. (160mph, Category Five.)
22.) Hurricane David, 1979; 924mb. (175mph, Category Five.)
23.) Hurricane #3, 1853; 924mb. (155mph, Category Four.)
24.) Cuban Hurricane of 1910; 924mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
25.) Indianola Hurricane of 1886; 925mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
26.) Hurricane Anita, 1977; 926mb. (175mph, Category Five.)
27.) Florida Keys Hurricane of 1919; 927mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
28.) Hurricane Esther, 1961; 927mb. (145mph, Category Four.)
29.) Hurricane Gabrielle, 1989; 927mb. (145mph, Category Four.)
30.) Hurricane Carmen, 1975; 928mb. (150mph, Category Four.)

31.) Hurricane Earl, 2010; 928mb. (145mph, Category Four.)
32.) Hurricane #8, 1880; 928mb. (140mph, Category Four.)
33.) Hurricane Felix, 2007; 929mb. (175mph, Category Five.)
34.) Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928; 929mb. (160mph, Category Five.)
35.) Hurricane Emily, 2005; 929mb. (160mph, Category Five.)
36.) Hurricane Inez, 1966; 929mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
37.) Hurricane Carol, 1953; 929mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
38.) Hurricane Felix, 1995; 929mb. (140mph, Category Four.)
39.) San Ciriaco Hurricane of 1899; 930mb. (150mph, Category Four.)
40.) Hurricane Gert, 1999; 930mb. (150mph, Category Four.)

That's the company Earl keeps.


Yeah. But there's a reason that recent storms dominate those lists. In earlier hurricanes, unless the eye happened to pass directly over a ship that survived to record the data, or directly over a meteorological station onshore, we never got the low pressure readings. And, in general, storms wouldn't pass over those observation points at the precise moment of their peak intensity.

So it's reasonable to rank Early among the worst storms of the last half-century. Going further back just distorts the picture.
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Quoting chicagowatcher:
Sorry, just too funny. Stephanie Abrams, explaining a water vapor map describes it as:

"If the atmosphere is like a hamburger, we're now looking at the lettuce and tomato layer..."

Really gotta enjoy TWC...


Stephanie is just.. I don't know. She's.. unique.
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1082. angiest
Radar shows some rain bands moving on shore.
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1081. Patrap
NEXRAD Radar
Wilmington, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248 NMI


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Earl's NW eyewall looks like it might be under the gun:

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Sorry, just too funny. Stephanie Abrams, explaining a water vapor map describes it as:

"If the atmosphere is like a hamburger, we're now looking at the lettuce and tomato layer..."

Really gotta enjoy TWC...
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1078. Gearsts
Double post eh? :(
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Quoting Relix:


Thanks =). I really didn't notice what foul word I had used until a few minutes later. Yeah I know the rules, it just slipped my fingers. I know this place is strict so that's the first time that has happened. Oh well... stuff happens. =P


I'm the one that made the comment about the foul language. It's done. Forgiven. Move on.

Trust me, that will be one of the more tame things that will happen on this blog in the next couple of days. :)
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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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