Category 3 Earl Continues Moving Towards the East Coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:13 AM GMT on September 01, 2010

Hi, Dr. Rob Carver with your evening blog update. It's a busy night in the tropics with Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storm Fiona in the Atlantic, and 3 named storms in the western Pacific. Tonight, though, we'll focus on Earl.

As of 11PM EDT, Earl is still a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 160 mph. From the advisory, Earl is located at 23.0 N, 69.9 W, 910 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC. On average, Earl is currently moving towards the northwest at 14 mph. Remember, large storms are known for having wobbly tracks. Aircraft observations and microwave imagery (Fig. 1) indicate that the eyewall is reforming.

Fig. 1 Estimated rain-rate of Earl taken at 2332Z 31 Aug 2010. Image courtesy of the Naval Research Lab

Earl is passing near buoy 41046 and is generating some large waves as shown by Figure 1.

Fig. 2Plot of wave heights observed at buoy 41046. Data courtesy of the National Data Buoy Center

Earl is a large storm. Hurricane force winds extend 90 miles from the storm center and tropical storm force winds can be found 200 miles away. This means Earl will have an impact on areas well away from the center's track

Track Forecast
NHC has not really altered their track forecast for this update. Thanks to the subtropical high, Earl will continue a slight turn to the right as it moves around the subtropical high. Then when a 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. The current forecast still holds that Earl's center will stay out to sea, and I don't see any reason to disagree. Most of the computer model guidance supports this forecast (except for NOGAPS and NGFDL, and they have Earl only crossing the Outer Banks). It is worth noting that the ECMWF global model (the best global model) does bring Earl close to the Outer Banks. Earl will make his closest approach to the Outer Banks sometime early Friday morning.

Winds Forecast
Earl's size and track will likely produce tropical-storm force winds somewhere along the East Coast this weekend. From the wind probability product issued by NHC, Cape Hatteras has a 63% chance of tropical-storm force winds sometime this weekend. There is a wide swath of 30% chance of TS winds from Virginia north towards Maine. New York City has a 20% chance of TS winds, and Nantucket, MA has a 50% chance.

When Earl hooks on to the trough and starts accelerating to the northeast, it will start transitioning from a tropical system to an extratropical low. This means it will start weakening.

Current Watches
As of 1045PM EDT, a hurricane watch is in effect for the coastal US from Surf City, NC to the NC/VA border. Remember, this means tropical-storm force winds are expected within 48 hours. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Turks and Caicos islands. A tropical storm watch is also in effect from Cape Fear to Surf City and for the southeastern Bahama islands. For the latest information on watches and warnings for Earl, visit our Tropical Alerts page.

It's too early to be specific. That said, the local NWS office in Morehead City, NC thinks that with the combination of tides and winds, a storm surge of 4 feet is possible along the Outer Banks with moderate coastal flooding possible. They also think rip currents are a likely threat at the beaches.

What to do
People living in areas covered by the hurricane watch should start following their hurricane preparation plans now. You have less than 48 hours to complete your preparations. Be sure to listen to local media for statements from emergency management agencies and the local NWS. If you live in areas prone to flooding, evacuate to a hurricane shelter or a place outside evacuation zones. If an evacuation order is given, please follow it.

People living from Virginia to New England should monitor the progress of Earl and think about their hurricane preparations.

Fiona stayed too close to big brother Earl and is paying the price. Outflow from Earl is expected to create shear, transforming Fiona into an open trough. It's forecast to dissipate in 2-3 days.

Earl has weakened to a category 3 storm with maximum winds of 125 mph. NHC has extended the hurricane watch from the NC/VA border to Parramore island. The track forecast has shifted a bit to the west, so the chance of tropical-storm force winds in the New England area has gone up. For example, Eastport ME has a greater than 50% chance of tropical storm force winds now. For more cities, take a look at the wind probabilities product. Intensity forecast is relatively unchanged.

Fiona is starting to build a little more space between herself and Earl. If this keeps up, Fiona might have a shot at survival. This is worth keeping an eye on.

Next update
Dr. Jeff Masters will have an update Wednesday morning.

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1472. snotly
That image of Earl and Fiona looks so familiar.
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1470. hydrus
Quoting ncstorm:
Earl is speeding was 16 its 17 this a trend?..not good if he speeds up..not good at all
It certainly increases the risk of the center making landfall.
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Quoting BobinTampa:


Whining about the trolls worsens the situation. The best way to deal with trolls is to act as if they are not there. They feed on our complaints.
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1468. Gearsts
Quoting jrweatherman:

We have Gaston?
Almost yes
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Quoting Jax82:
11am Earl

We all have internet...
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1466. Bonedog
FYI for the person asking which law gives the cops the right to stop and inspect a vehicle during the hurricane....

North Carolina General Statute 14-288.11. Warrants to inspect vehicles in riot areas or approaching municipalities during emergencies.

specifically (1) All vehicles entering or approaching a municipality in which a state of emergency exists;
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1465. twooks
What's the latest on that trough. Last night, there was some discussion about it being too slow to get to Earl, and possibly not as amplified as predicted. Still the same?
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I'm a bit peeved.

Dare County Emergency Management should NOT take a position of wait and see (they always evacuate Hatteras Island, then CONSIDER Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, etc...).

And although Stephanie Abrams on TWC is correct that there is a "method to the madness" of evacuating the OBX, if this storm had been taken seriously the evacuations would have all begun a day prior.

At this point, to evac the entire OBX will take us into the forecast onset of TS conditions...

I understand consistent model runs keeping the storm offshore, but when those model runs only keep the storm offshore by the general forecast margin of error, the worst should be assumed, and the best hoped for.

I am not joking. If a Cat 3 storm moved northward over the OBX, it would be the most devastating storm since the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1941.

I am EXTREMELY concerned about soundside flooding... The Albemarle and Pamlico are massive bodies of water that are a force to be reckoned with, and what often happens with cyclones located over or to our east is that the ocean will do it's damage and batter us, then the sound will come in (6+ feet in places during Isabel) and claim what the waves didn't.....

Ugh... I'm worried.
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1460. NEwxguy
Once these systems get far enough north,the they start to feel the trough and take off at high speeds.Once Earl gets to me here in Massachusetts he will probably moving at 30-40 mph.
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Quoting futuremet:

I have no one in my ignore list. I ignore trolls by just simply...well...ignoring their posts.

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1458. hydrus
Quoting unf97:

No question, ridging will definitely become more pronounced across the tropical Atlantic in the long term.

That long awaited pattern change StormW has talked about for the past couple of weeks just may be coming to fruition now unfortunately.
Shower curtains up!
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If you want to see what 20 plus foot surf looks like hitting the reef.....

This is from Elbow Cay in the Abacos.

Click on white sound on the left side mid way down for a live picture.

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Quoting ncstorm:
Earl is speeding was 16 its 17 this a trend?..not good if he speeds up..not good at all

It will continue to move faster.
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Quoting futuremet:

I have no one in my ignore list. I ignore trolls by just simply...well...ignoring their posts.

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My mom up in Cape May said she has her supplies ready - just in case. Good precaution.

She said last night that the Philly forecasters were saying Earl is following Gloria's path... Mmmm, not so much as far as the forecasts go.

Since she is in Cape May, County, though, I told her to keep an eye on the forecast and that I will call her after the 5 with any updates.
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1450. raggpr
Quoting kwgirl:
GOD FORBID!!! It sat over the Keys for days!

I live in PR and I didn't have water for almost 1.5 weeks and electricity for about 1 month. The problem was that some electrical lines and posts were down and there was no way the electric company could repair it fast. It was really suprising how we help each other. The line of houses in front had power so what we did is that we cross a lot of power lines from one side to another. Driving trough the road was like passing over a million bumps. We divided in half the payment for that month to the houses in front. That is what i like about hurricanes people get together and help each other.
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Quoting SiestaCpl:

Emergency powers statutes that allow hold on some civil liberties during a declared emergency which is what has occurred.

They have civil liberties in N.C.? Must have got'em after I left.
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1446. ncstorm
Earl is speeding was 16 its 17 this a trend?..not good if he speeds up..not good at all
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Quoting DestinJeff:

"We have multiple penalties on the blog.

- Unecessary trolling, on the trolls, resulting in Ejection from the blog

- Unecessary quoting of trolls, on the non-trolling bloggers.

- Excessive whining about troll quoting, on the rest of the non-trolling bloggers.

These penalties off-set. Still first down.

I have no one in my ignore list. I ignore trolls by just simply...well...ignoring their posts.
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With all of his FLcasting, I think @apocalyps is trying to score a cheap last minute condo rental for a vacation this weekend by scaring off the vacationers.
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1443. MahFL
Earl's eye is shrinking too, winds should go up later today.
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1427 I wouldn't call it disappointing. Some might get more than they expect. Hurricane winds go out 90 miles and tropical force 200 miles. Also you can get hurricane force gusts in tropical force winds.
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1441. NEwxguy
Guys,don't mean to jump all over people about quoting trolls,but when you see an outlandish prediction or statement,its a troll,I don't care wether people ignore trolls or want to make a statement to them,just don't quote them,it ruins it for us who chose not to see the crazy statements.
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Earl did indeed siphon some moisture from Fiona as I thought later yesterday looking at the TPW.

It also looks like Fiona's circulation is getting stretched North-South. This could be the weakening we've seen on satellite lately. I'm with the NHC on the LLC with Fiona following Earl NW and dissapating.

Finally, TD9 looks to have a small but concentrated area of deep moisture to work with and is sufficiently far north of the ITCZ.

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Read other situation updates @

Found on FEMA website: Their not taking any chances.

FEMA Preparations and Response for Hurricane Earl
The National Response Coordination Center is activated to 24/7 operations and Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are moving to Region I and Region IV to prepare for possible impact by Hurricane Earl. FEMA Logistics is moving supplies including meals, water, generators and communications teams.

FEMA Region I Regional Response Coordination Center and the MERS Operations Center in Maynard, MA are operating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Numerous Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) from around the country are deployed throughout the region.

FEMA Region II Regional Response Coordination Center is operating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Emergency Support Functions and the Defense Coordinating Element is activated until further notice. Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and another IMAT is on alert in New York. Defense Coordinating Officers and two Federal Coordinating Officers were sent to the Caribbean Area Division in advance of the storm. FEMA liaisons are working with local officials out of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Centers.

FEMA Region III Regional Response Coordination Center is operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Region has identified three IMAT teams to deploy as needed.

FEMA Region IV Regional Response Coordination Center is operating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are deployed to North Carolina and an Incident Support Base is standing up in Ft. Bragg, NC.
(FEMA HQ, Regions I, II, III, IV)
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1438. MahFL
Quoting hydrus:
Disappoint? Maybe. I would imagine there will be some happy folks too.jmo

That's why I did not say ALL people......
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Quoting tatoprweather:

Do you have a link for this???

Navy/NRL Tropical Cyclone Page
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The UKMET and GFS appear to be coastal riders. They look scary.
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Quoting hydrus:
Hugo was like that.

yea but Hugo was a cat 5 at the time not a cat 3
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1433. hydrus
Quoting MahFL:
Earl is going to dissapoint a lot of people and stay offshore NC by 75 miles........
Disappoint? Maybe. I would imagine there will be some happy folks too.jmo
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1429. Zeec94
-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell calls for State of Emergency

-NC prompts mandatory evacuations.

-Navy to stay in port for storm.
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1428. hydrus
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Outer bands of Earl have flight level winds of 70 knts.. that is incredible
Hugo was like that.
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1427. MahFL
Earl is going to dissapoint a lot of people and stay offshore NC by 75 miles........
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1426. kwgirl
Quoting raggpr:
Here it comes! Interesting that this season looks just like 1998. You know guys that Gaston was the replace name for Georges. And did you remember what georges did. It will be interesting to see if this ends to be a track like georges, even thou intensity seems to be different. This should be weaker.
GOD FORBID!!! It sat over the Keys for days!
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1423. JamesSA
Quoting NEwxguy:
I'm at the point where I wish we could get rid of the quote button.

I think the +/- scoring system could be utilized to disable the quote button on people with an extremely negative score, while preserving it for those whose score suggests they post stuff worth quoting. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

...But it would be nice if people just stopped quoting them.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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