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Noel the hurricane becomes Noel the 'Noreaster

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:59 PM GMT on November 02, 2007

Hurricane Noel pulled off a surprising burst of intensification last night despite 30 knots of wind shear. The storm's pressure dropped from 993 mb to 981 mb in just a few hours, and the winds cranked up to 80 mph. Noel is the first November hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Michelle of 2001. Fortunately, Noel's intensification burst came after the storm had cleared the Bahama Islands, and wind damage was relatively minor in the islands. The latest Hurricane Hunter eye report at 8am EDT found the pressure holding steady at 981 mb, and weaker surface winds, 70-75 mph.

Noel the hurricane becomes Noel the 'Noreaster
Noel will brush Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, today, bringing winds near tropical storm force and a few rain bands. Strong northerly winds are expected to cause coastal flooding inside Pamlico Sound, with water levels 4-6 feet above normal. Winds at the Diamond Shoals buoy off the coast of Cape Hatteras were sustained at 40 mph, gusting to 47 mph, at 10am EDT. Seas were 15 feet, and 10-12 foot breakers are expected along the Outer Banks today. Noel has expanded significantly in size over the past 24 hours, and is bringing tropical storm force winds over a huge area of ocean (Figure 1). As Noel approaches New England on Saturday, the hurricane will make the transition to a powerful 'Noreaster, as cold air spills into the storm from the northwest. Noel's wind field is expected to expand farther, and the storm will maintain its intensity. Sustained winds of tropical storm force (39 mph) are likely along eastern Long Island and the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia. The latest (06Z) runs of the GFDL and HWRF models intensify Noel to a 954 mb 'Noreaster, and bring sustained winds of hurricane force (75 mph) to Cape Cod and Nantucket. The ECMWF and NOGAPS models also bring Noel quite close to Cape Cod, and foresee a landfall near the Maine/Nova Scotia border. The UKMET and GFS models are farther east, bringing Noel to the western or central coast of Nova Scotia. Due to the wide wind field of Noel, both Massachusetts and Nova Scotia may see hurricane force winds. Due to the cold air invading Noel from the west, the western side of the storm will be the rainy side, and coastal Massachusetts can expect 2-6 inches of rain. About 1-3 inches are likely for Nova Scotia.

Figure 1. QuikSCAT image from 6:47am EDT Friday, 11/02/07. Can you find the hurricane?

Noel's trail of destruction
Noel's death toll now stands at 115, with many hard-hit rural areas yet to be heard from. The Dominican Republic suffered 73 deaths, Haiti 40, the Bahamas one, and Jamaica one. Noel is the deadliest storm this hurricane season. Hurricane Felix's official death toll was 101 people in Nicaragua and Honduras earlier this season (wikipedia puts this toll at 133). Additional rains of 1-2 inches are likely to fall in Haiti, eastern Cuba, and the eastern Bahamas today, due to Noel. Noel brought over 20 inches of rain to some of the Bahamas Islands, such as Rum Cay and San Salvador Island (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Satellite estimated rainfall totals for October 26-November 1, from the NASA TRMM satellite.

Links to follow for Noel
Satellite loop
North Carolina marine weather and buoy reports
Long range radar out of Cape Hatteras, NC
Google Maps interface, zoomed in on Cape Hatteras, NC

I'll have an update Saturday morning.

Jeff Masters
Angry Atlantic
Angry Atlantic
High surf as tropical storm Noel passes by the east coast of Florida.
Not the smartest thing to do in a flash flood!


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