Aug 302010
 

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 – Afternoon Thoughts

 

Long Island and Cape Cod still look like they will see Earl pass them by to the southeast on Friday (though not by much for Cape Cod). But, the outer banks of North Carolina (Cape Hatteras) has an increasing risk for significant impacts from Earl late Thursday night, and possibly a direct hit.

The GFS/Euro models both pretty much have Earl hitting Cape Hatteras, or passing just barely to the east. Earl will weaken a little before he reaches the outer banks, as he will be moving into an area of increasing wind shear and dry air over the next couple days. But, he will still be a dangerous hurricane by Thursday night.

Residents that live in the outer banks of North Carolina should take Earl very seriously.

- Jim

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010 – Update

Hurricane Earl on the morning of August 31

Hurricane Earl on the morning of August 31


 

Hurricane Earl remains a dangerous category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph. But the good news is he finally made the turn to the northwest last night, and it looks like New England is going to dodge the bullet. Click here for the latest NHC track forecast.

Some computer models still have Earl brushing by the outer banks of North Carolina late Thursday night. So, that area is not out of the woods completely. But, the Great Lakes trough is now forecast to move just fast enough to the east on Thursday to turn Earl towards the north-northeast very early on Friday. Throughout Friday, Earl should accelerate rapidly to the northeast in response to that trough ejecting eastward. This should keep Hurricane Earl to the southeast of Long Island and most of Cape Cod. The only risks left I think are the northwestern eyewall brushing by Nantucket, with gusty winds and heavy rain extending into the southern tip of Cape Cod.

This is all good news for coastal New England. If this trend continues, it’ll be good news for the outer banks of North Carolina, too.

We still have Tropical Storm Fiona out in the central Atlantic, making way towards the northern Leeward Islands. Most computer models and the National Hurricane Center’s forecast take Fiona north of the islands and then out to sea. But, Fiona is weak and hasn’t turned northward yet. If we’ve learned anything from Hurricane Earl’s track, then we should be skeptical of the northwest turn forecast for Fiona later this week. Additionally, Fiona continues to battle dry air, and wind shear is expected to increase a bit over the next couple days. This will keep her from doing any significant strengthening over the next few days. This kind of situation would normally favor a more southerly track than computer models and the NHC forecast indicate.

 

National Hurricane Center forecast for Tropical Storm Fiona August 31

National Hurricane Center forecast for Tropical Storm Fiona August 31


 

So we’ll see how things progress in the coming days. I think there are more questions than answers right now regarding Fiona’s future. But, until she actually passes north of the northern Leeward Islands late tomorrow, she should still be considered a potential threat to the southeastern U.S. coast. We’ll find out soon enough…

- Jim

 
 
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Monday, 30 August 2010

Visible satellite image on August 30 of Hurricane Earl

Visible satellite image on August 30 of Hurricane Earl

 

Forecast track on August 30 at 11 a.m. for Hurricane Earl

Forecast track on August 30 at 11 a.m. for Hurricane Earl

 

Hurricane Earl rapidly intensified overnight. He now has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, which brings him to category 3 status. The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows him threatening the Mid Atlantic and Northeast coast later this week. But, it’s interesting to note that Earl has been tracking south of the both the official forecast and some of the model guidance for a few days now (shown below). Even if you look at the track forecast history on the NHC website for Earl, you will see how the forecast has shown a northwest turn for several days, yet the turn has still not occurred.

 

Earl's actual track in black with model forecasts in other colors.  You can see the north bias in the model.

Earl's actual track in black with model forecasts in other colors. You can see the north bias in the model.

 
Taking a closer look at the official forecast, the models and Earl’s actual track over the last 24 hours (image below), you can see the continued north/right bias in the models and the official NHC forecast. So the big question is: How much longer will Earl remain south/left of the models and official forecast? If this trend continues for much longer, we will be talking about a direct along the Mid Atlantic or Northeast coast. But alas, it’s just not that simple.

 

Earls forecast track and actual track in black, with tropical models in other colors.  You can see the north bias in the models continues.

Earls forecast track and actual track in black, with tropical models in other colors. You can see the north bias in the models continues.


 

The other big piece of the puzzles is the timing and speed of a trough forecast to move into the Great Lakes and Northeast late this week. Exactly how it interacts with Hurricane Earl will be crucial in determining how sharp he turns to the north/northeast Thursday into Friday as he approaches New England. Based on the trends of late, it’s going to be a close call for both the outer banks of North Carolina and eastern Long Island/Cape Cod. However, Earl will probably miss just to the east on both accounts, especially for Cape Cod, since that trough is going to play a big role that I don’t think is fully seen in the modeling yet. But it’s going to be a close call and it’s still too early to say either way with confidence.

- Jim

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