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 texascoastres:
TWC said if earl does not turn now it will be a direct hit on OBX
DUH
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Quoting tkeith:
They are first on my list since I have no children at home.

Gotta take care of those that cant take care of themselves.

If you have elderly or sick neighbors they would be high on that list as well.


Micro-chipping your pets are a life saver, so many animals for K never found their home. You can often get micro-chipping done at a reduced cost by calling local animal shelters. Also finding dog food is a real pain once you return home if there is significant damage, If you evacuate buy an extra supply of animal food while you're gone and bring it with you. If you stay, buy it now. Extra water is a MUST for animals, many people don't take them into account when figuring out how much to stock up on for storms.
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1024. IKE
Quoting katty5:
people you can forget the trof it wont save you ear is coming right down the pipe and will destroy anything that gets in his way....so if you havent left i would leave now this storm is a killer...


I was worried about my ears.
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From what I can tell on the lastest RGB, Earl is wobbling Northwest agian the last few frames.

Link

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Quoting texascoastres:
TWC said if earl does not turn now it will be a direct hit on OBX

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



Pat ya think it's gonna actually cross over the OBX at this point?
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1019. Patrap
These LARGE CV Style Hurricanes with this type of Momentumn cant turn on a dime or a penny.

Take all Preps to Protect Life Now and property.
Time is Limited.

Time is NOT on ones side in the WARNED areas.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
Quoting angiest:


Is the hurricane symbol sitting on a vortex fix? Looks ever so slightly left. Wobbles are becoming important.


That last Vortex fix was one I took off the HH run, they have not plotted it yet officially.

Unless it has a complete Time stamp.. ie time and date... its one I took off their information... its correct... just not official.
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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. :)
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Quoting texascoastres:
TWC said if earl does not turn now it will be a direct hit on OBX
So TWC is capable of drawing a straight line on a map of the east coast? Who knew they possessed such sophistication?
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1014. Vero1
Earl should be approaching the GulfStream split.
Member Since: July 21, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 2233
Quoting usa777:

Actually the west side of the bay will get the worst surge. We wont see any winds on this side but we will get some surge.


True, where my father keeps his boat might get the surge, although he's at the top of the bay. I'm well off the bay, so I'm not worried. People here are acting like we're going to get clobbered, but I live along 95. We're fine.
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1010. 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.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
1009. Relix
Quoting ElConando:


That slow down isn't helping. The lack of speed could kill him if he does not speed up a bit. Not that I would mind watching death by lack of movement.


Problem is he's gonna keep moving slow thanks to steering currents. He's in for a few hellish days.
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1008. angiest
Quoting Orcasystems:


If Earl misses that next turn... not pretty





Is the hurricane symbol sitting on a vortex fix? Looks ever so slightly left. Wobbles are becoming important.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
That XTRP vector aint purty.
That Xtrap model has been doing better with this storm than usual. Must have upgraded it. J/K ;)~
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1006. lippy
Orca - Indeed. I would hope that a stronger storm (than forecast by the models) might influence the track further to the right.
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TWC said if earl does not turn now it will be a direct hit on OBX
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1004. Relix
Quoting KanKunKid:


In his defense, I must say he is right. My Ex was Cuban and the SH word to them wasn't the same as it is to us. The word translated SH for them means something less profane. I had to get after my wife for using it, of course with her accent it always came out "sheet", but the ones with tender ears would get offended.

However, rules are rules and no matter how silly we think them to be (I know, I've got the "post removed" censor before) we are on Dr Master's blog and he has requested that we go by the rules. So either out of respect for the good Doctor or out of fear that your post will be removed, consider carefully the content of your posts.
Personally, I always enjoy your comments, so don't let this discourage you. If you feel you must use an expletive to fully express yourself, try leaving out a letter or 2 or put in an *, even then you might risk offending the "community". So it is better to use other words or learn a few more adjectives.
Thanks, though for your comments.


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
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Quoting Relix:


We haven't seen the last of Gaston!


That slow down isn't helping. The lack of speed could kill him if he does not speed up a bit. Not that I would mind watching death by lack of movement.
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HurricaneEarl's heading had turned northward to 6.2degrees west of dueNorth
from its previous heading of 1.9degrees north of NorthNorthWest
H.Earl's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions was ~!8.3mph(~29.5km/h)

01Sep . 12pmGMT - - 24.5n71.6w - - 125mph - - 943mb - - NHC.Adv.#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
02Sep . 09amGMT - - 29.3n74.7w - - 145mph - - 928mb - - #32
02Sep . 12pmGMT - - 30.1n74.8w - - 145mph - - 932mb - - #32A

Copy&paste 24.5n71.6w, 25.1n72.1w, 25.7n72.7w, 26.3n73.3w, 27.2n73.5w-27.8n73.8w, 27.8n73.8w-28.6n74.4w, 28.6n74.4w-29.3n74.7w, 29.3n74.7w-30.1n74.8w, gso, 30.1n74.8w-37.48n75.8w 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:
~26hours from now to CapeCharles,Virginia
Actually nearest Exmore, but CapeCharles is familiar.
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1000. 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.
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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.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
Quoting frecklespugsley:
I'm in MD (between 95 and the bay) and I'm not afraid of Earl affecting me at all really, but I'm sure the eastern side of the bay will get some wind, rain, and surge. This storm is going to affect a lot of places a little bit instead of hitting one place hard.

Actually the west side of the bay will get the worst surge. We wont see any winds on this side but we will get some surge.
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Cherry Point, North Carolina (Airport)
Updated: 27 min 51 sec ago
79 °F
Overcast
Humidity: 78%
Dew Point: 72 °F
Wind: 13 mph from the NNE
Pressure: 29.97 in (Falling)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 1 out of 16

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995. Relix


We haven't seen the last of Gaston!
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Quoting Relix:
Gaston downgraded: AL, 09, 2010090212, , BEST, 0, 139N, 386W, 30, 1008, TD


Wow, didn't expect that.
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EARL Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
If I recall Katrina became less organized just before landfall because of the cooler waters near shore but STILL had the cat 5 storm surgel that came on shore at time when the eye hit the coast
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Quoting ncstorm:


but as soon as the wind or rain blows hard, you lose satellite..


If you evacuate the area and have access to DTV, then you can watch a channel from your area. peeps that left for Katrina went as far as TN
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Dang another jog to the left...ouch
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Quoting hydrus:
lol...Unfortunately, we may not be making to much fun of that name in a week or so.....


You're right, no more jokes, gotta go finish laundry anyway.....out for now. Good luck coastal N.C. folks......and others.
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985. Relix
Gaston downgraded: AL, 09, 2010090212, , BEST, 0, 139N, 386W, 30, 1008, TD
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NHC surge probability gives only a greater than 50% chance for only a surge of 2 feet in the Mid Atlantic region. The rest of the higher probabilities are below 50% at their highest changes. Now there are many other factors involved here but i'm just looking.
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Quoting Patrap:
The SSS scale is worthless as too IMPACT. It was designed 40 years ago almost for WIND loading on structures.

Impact counts.

Name another cat 3-4 that had a 30 foot surge on her East side and a 17-20 on her WEST...?


Its worthless the SSS and only provides a FALSE sense of security for the LESS informed. Today we focus on EARL..and its IMPACT.

The PAST is unchangeable..today we can make a difference,even if we get one family to bounce out the IMPACT area.

+++1 Exactly!
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955 - Thanks, Pat. Staying right of 75W is a good thing!
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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?



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Quoting catastropheadjuster:
Also if you as parents decide not to leave at least find someplace safe for your children. At there Aunts,Grandparents somewhere other than with you if you stay. don't put your children in harms way just because you wanna stay. Think about your babies.
sheri


If you DO stay, talk to your kids about what to expect from the Hurricane. They need to know that it won't last more than about 8-hours and then it will go away.

Write down names and phone #'s of relatives to call in case you get separated. Make sure everybody gets a copy. Have a place to meet arranged in case you get separated. One relative, not in that area, should be selected to be the 'contact person'. "In case you get lost, call Aunt Martha."

If your dog or cat doesn't have ID tags, then make one out of plastic and write name, address and several phone #'s in permanent marker, then secure it to their collars. Luggage tags work great.

Just a few simple common sense things can mean the difference between sanity and chaos during and after the storm. When people get nervous, they tend to eat. Have a few snack munchies with you for the storm, especially for the kids. Light a few votive candles (in globes or good glass containers) to put in several rooms of your house. It really helps when the electricity goes out (which it will).

Have a radio handy with spare batteries. It helps you to get through a storm if you hear reports about where the eye is and where it is passing now.

Just use common sense. Expect lots of trees down, area flooding and no electricity for a while and no running water (at least not drinkable water).
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Quoting FLdewey:

Thanks... you must take care of the furry ones. ;-)
They are first on my list since I have no children at home.

Gotta take care of those that cant take care of themselves.

If you have elderly or sick neighbors they would be high on that list as well.
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Quoting lippy:
Earl looks dead-on or just right of the forecast points to me.


If Earl misses that next turn... not pretty



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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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