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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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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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


I was using the dropsonde location, that location is 167 nautical miles, but 10 second SFMR anre not 1 minute sustained.


Sure. It's 167NM as the crow flies, 200NM by the great circle. And SFMR winds are not the same as dropsonde. On the other hand, a long chain of 35knot observations - as opposed to an isolated peak wind - is roughly as reliable. And that's what it found at that distance from the storm. I'd rather they'd deployed another dropsonde to verify, but the winds were entirely consistent with other observations, and I'm perfectly comfortable relying on the SFMR for setting the westward extent of Tropical Storm force winds.

My point is that the position statements have, if anything, been fairly dramatically understating the extension of tropical storm force winds to the west of Earl. This storm is going to have a real impact not only on the outer banks, but well on shore in NC and VA.

We'll get further verification of this in the next few minutes. The next hunter - and Air Force C130J - is now commencing its inbound run from the northwest. It should switch on its SFMR for the next high-density burst, and we'll get some readings that will give a better indication of just how soon the OBX will start to encounter some serious winds.
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STORM SURGE...A DANGEROUS STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS
MUCH AS 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING
AREA AND THE LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY. ELSEWHERE WITHIN THE TROPICAL
STORM WARNING AREA...STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH
AS 1 TO 3 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL. NEAR THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL
BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE WAVES.



Please if you are in the Outer Banks just get in a car and move 30-40 miles West and find some lodging to stay for a night. You are more important than your home. Other recent destructive storms such as Floyd did not make a direct pass at the Outer banks at peak strength.
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Quoting Patrap:


A smart man wit da plan Lives to Party again.

Wisdom comes in doses today.

by tonight..some will be praying and Hoping and wishing they left.

U betcha.


I wish there was a way to play some of those calls from WWL radio, all those people calling in because the water was rising and they were trapped. One of the most chilling things I've ever heard and it changed my life forever.
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I had both my dogs chipped just for that reason -however, when chipping very small dogs with little or no fat be aware of the fact that sometimes, not often, the chip will work itself out... On my little 5 pound boy - it did just that. We decided not to re-chip him.

East Coast people be safe - Earl is a monster churning out there.

Good Day to all! : )
Quoting LADobeLady:


I had so many great dogs come through my home after K, never to go back with their families because they weren't chipped. To see all the great animals at Lamar-Dixon just forgotten was a life changer for many and so unnecessary.
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1072. angiest
These are my thoughts on people not living on the coast evacuating:

Link
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1071. lhwhelk
Quoting LADobeLady:



Micro-chipping your pets are a life saver, so many animals for K never found their home.

This is very true. I run a rescue group and saw what could happen. Additionally, from a behavior training perspective (I am a trainer), if your DOG is afraid of the wind, lightning, thunder, etc., the worst thing you can do is to comfort him and say, "It's all right, baby." You need to act as though it is all part of life (it is) and perhaps even exciting.
The same thing works for CHILDREN. My brother and I didn't find out until we were adults that our mother was terrified of lightning. She always taught us that it was something exciting, and we both still love storms. (Which is a different thing from wishing for a hurricane!)
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1070. Gearsts
Quoting AlvaroSM:
Gaston right now is having problems with organization. Could him get more organizing in the next hours?...
Is actually more organize but lacks convection dry air and shear are the problem
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1069. Gearsts
Quoting AlvaroSM:
Gaston right now is having problems with organization. Could him get more organizing in the next hours?...
Is actually more organize but lacks convection dry air and shear are the problem
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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


I had so many great dogs come through my home after K, never to go back with their families because they weren't chipped. To see all the great animals at Lamar-Dixon just forgotten was a life changer for many and so unnecessary.
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Hide from wind, Run from water.
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Quoting aimetti:
at this point what do you guys feel about south eastern ct?

I live 10 miles from the shore so surge isnt a problem. But lets say it did hit west. I am assuming I am not at the point or real need to evac?





Based on the picture below, you have a good chance of tropical storm winds. As for evacuating, generally we "hide from winds, run from water". Many variables to consider: proximity to lake or river, amount of trees around house, fear factor. It's really more of a personal decision for you at this point.


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Quoting ElConando:


Earl is going doing something that you do not see a storm do too often. Run from the Mid Atlantic to New England and into Eastern Canada all at Hurricane strength. Though Inland areas will be lightly affected some coastal areas in those regions may not look the same after earl passes.


My "Guess" is that Earls CPA to the OBX will be about 40 miles to the east of Buxton, if he continues as he has the last few days to stay just to PORT of the NHC track. Guess being the keyword...
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1061. Patrap
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


A smart man wit da plan Lives to Party again.

Wisdom comes in doses today.

by tonight..some will be praying and Hoping and wishing they left.

U betcha.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
Quoting ElConando:
In other news, have you ever seen a slower mover across the ATL recently than Gaston. I mean i've seen some go 12-13 mph but 9?


Not many. It sure adds to the buildup of tension watching and waiting, not knowing where it's heading. Of course... Ivan sat on top of us in Cayman for 18 hours as it poked along at 4-6 mph at Cat 5 strength.
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1058. angiest
Quoting Patrap:
NEXRAD Radar
Wilmington, Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI



Those are some strong storms.
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Quoting TheMom:
Okay so my cousin in Newport News is not listening to me that she needs to be getting things secured the local mets are telling them
"Well, now its even further out to sea than yesterday. Unless it suddenly turns west, it wont hit us at all. Theyre not even predicting rain for us. Just partly cloudy."
Can I get a wake up call please that I can send her? I'm terrified she isn't even thinking the fact that the trains have stopped service to her Newport News is a big deal.


The local mets are probably right. NHC guidance has Newport News on the border of their hurricane warning and tropical storm warning areas, with Earl's eye about 200 miles out at sea.
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There is nothing brave about staying, there is nothing cool about staying, the only thing not evacuating does is jeopardize you and your families life. Please, please leave, hurricanes are not fun, living in their aftermath is not fun. Be safe and smart.

(this was to anyone who is thinking about staying)
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1055. 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
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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.
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1051. Patrap
Vaccarella Family - Hurricane Katrina

12 Miles East of Downtown NOLA.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
1050. ncstorm
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.


Great Post! My kids are very anxious and I have been reassuring them we will be okay..I try to let them know that their mom is a Pro for hurricanes and we will be okay but on the inside I am really nervous about this one
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1048. Patrap
If Earls Eye Makes Landfall along the OBX..the Landscape will be changed forever.

GET OUT.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
Quoting Patrap:
The trof isnt even affectting the Northwestern Outflow.

Get a move on while one can.

Dont bet on the turn. You'll be hedging your life possibly.


Pat have you posted the Vaccerella (sp) footage? Or the one of that old guy in Slidel that stayed? I can't remember his name for the life of me.
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Are any TV stations in N.C. doing wall-to-wall coverage on Earl and if so, is the live streaming available on the net?
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Quoting Patrap:
The trof isnt even affectting the Northwestern Outflow.

Get a move on while one can.

Dont bet on the turn. You'll be hedging your life possibly.


Pat have you posted the Vaccerella (sp) footage? Or the one of that old guy in Slidel that stayed? I can't remember his name for the life of me.
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1044. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting Patrap:
We're witnessing a CATASTROPHIC hurricane approaching the Coast,,by 20 Miles every hour now.

The Water is coming.

Dont be there when she crosses the coast.



Earl is going doing something that you do not see a storm do too often. Run from the Mid Atlantic to New England and into Eastern Canada all at Hurricane strength. Though Inland areas will be lightly affected some coastal areas in those regions may not look the same after earl passes.
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1042. Patrap
NEXRAD Radar
Wilmington, Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
1041. angiest
Quoting butterflymcb:


Ok....

If you are planning for GARBAGE bags to go to the bathroom....

it is time to consider evacuating. ??


Sounds like a good idea. ;)

The alternative is to buy a spade and some biodegradable TP. Just like camping in the wilderness.
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Quoting CloudGatherer:

For the 200 NM reading, I was relying on this SFMR Reading

Time: 12:53:30Z
Coordinates: 29.7333N 77.9833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 643.8 mb (~ 19.01 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 3,815 meters (~ 12,516 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1003.2 mb (~ 29.62 inHg)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 40 knots (~ 46.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 35 knots (~ 40.2 mph)

On the same run, that aircraft made its center fix at 30.15/74.8. So how do you get 108 NM?


I was using the dropsonde location, that location is 167 nautical miles, but 10 second SFMR are not 1 minute sustained.
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Link
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1038. IKE
1345UTC visible...

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1037. Snowmog
Quoting SkulDouggery:

Yeah and it appears it just took a slight left jog.


so, if that does happen, what does it mean for the NE?
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Link
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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? =)
yeah! WHO DAT!
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
DUH


ROFLMAO... Earl does like that XTRAP line doesn't he.
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1030. Relix
LGEM Forecast:

6 hours. 30 knots
12 hours. 29 knots
18 hours. 29 knots
24 hours. 30 knots
36 hours. 35 knots
48 hours. 40 knots
And then increasing to 100 knots by 120 hours

Makes sense. A lot.
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Quoting gumbogrrl:
If you are going to stay and you are in Earl's Crosshairs, make sure you have LOTS of garbage bags on hand. Because your plumbing may go out and you will some place to go to the bathroom. I know it sounds crazy, but it is should be on your list of things to buy if you are going to stay through a monster like this...It's one of those things lots of people don't think about...Due to our close calls on the Gulf Coast recently, we have our hurricane supply lists down to a fine science now. And, did I mention anti-bacterial gel!?! That is a must as well if you have no running water for a time. :)


Ok....

If you are planning for GARBAGE bags to go to the bathroom....

it is time to consider evacuating. ??
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1028. Patrap
NEXRAD Radar
Wilmington, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284

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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.