Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/31/2010

Core of Earl still likely to stay offshore

By Greg Postel

North Carolina outer banks may get brushed

* Hot through Friday: Full Forecast | Code red air quality alert *
* Hurricane Tracking Center | Katrina lessons | Live chat at 1 p.m. *

earl-rainbow.jpg
Satellite image of Hurricane Earl as of 11 a.m. this morning. Courtesy NOAA.

Hurricane Earl is a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 135 mph. Located about 1070 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Earl is moving west-northwest at 14 mph. In its 11 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center cautions hurricane watches could be required for portions of the mid-Atlantic coast later today.

It's too early to provide details of specific impacts to coastal locations along the East Coast. We don't yet know what the rain bands will look like, and how far outward from the center they will reach. However, Earl is large enough so that if it reaches the latitude of North Carolina as a 100 knot (115 mph) hurricane as predicted by NHC, rain squalls with tropical storm-force wind gusts could very well brush the Outer Banks later Thursday into Friday. Farther north, the VA/MD/DE beaches could see some gusty winds and showers late Thursday into Friday.

The storm rapidly moves northeast and away from the mid-Atlantic late Friday, but big waves and rip currents likely linger into the weekend.

The NHC indicates Earl will likely retain Category 4 intensity for the next day or two but that fluctuations are likely. Two factors are complicating the intensity forecast and may limit significant additional intensification.

Keep reading for more on Earl and potential beach impacts...

The first is that Earl is undergoing some changes internally that have prevented the storm from strengthening since late yesterday afternoon. It's unclear when (or if) these tweaks to its anatomy will be completed in time to allow further maturation. The second is the potentially unfriendly environment Earl may be about to traverse. A large area of exceptionally dry air is parked off the Southeast U.S. coast.

If this air finds a way into Earl's primary circulation, it could weaken the storm significantly. In general, the penetration of dry air into a tropical cyclone tends to reduce the swirling winds. Like an ice skater trying to pull her arms inward to spin faster, the intrusion of dry air can have the effect of pushing the arms back outward and slowing the rotation.

earl-track.gif
Hurricane track projections from a range of computer models. Source: South Florida Water Management District

The thinking behind the track guidance has changed little from yesterday. Track guidance continues to be moderately clustered around the idea that the center of Earl will indeed remain out at sea and miss the U.S. coastline, bypassing the eastern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina by roughly 100 miles at closest approach just after midnight Friday morning.

It is important to keep in mind that the diagnosis of a hurricane's wind field (strength and size) is based on the assumption the storm is within a marine environment. A hurricane's winds, outside of the eyewall, weaken very quickly with increasing distance from the storm's center as it interacts with land, owing to the frictional effects from the land surface. So in the case where tropical storm-force winds extend outward 150 miles from the eye, a hurricane only 100 miles from the coast would not produce these winds 50 miles inland ... very likely not even close to that.

However, it is safe to say that rough seas and dangerous rip currents will impact the Eastern Seaboard later this week into the weekend. Confidence is fairly high that Earl will accelerate quickly to the northeast late Friday into very early Saturday -- so weather for the majority of the holiday weekend still looks nice and sunny for the Carolina and VA/MD/DE beaches -- even if cooler and a bit breezy.

By Greg Postel  | August 31, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Heat repeats 'til Friday; weekend cooler
Next: Re-living the emotions of Katrina at the Newseum

Comments

First!

Posted by: trollboy69 | August 31, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

so, at this point in 2005 (was it?) we were already on hurricane "K"? - and now we're only at "E". boy...we've got a lot of catching up to do for this to be the extremely active year we've been promised/warned about.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 31, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

So, do I need to be worried about my flight down to Florida on Friday night?

Posted by: maralenenok | August 31, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@maralenenok

No.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

hi walter-in-fallschurch,


(1) We're actually on the "F" storm, Fiona.

(2) Nobody promised a thing. At least not the scientists who make the predictions. Maybe certain media outlets you listen to twisted the information ?

The hurricane outlook is a prediction with uncertaintly included in the guidance. Honest users of that information would never confuse it with a promise. I'm assuming you didn't either.

(3) The hurricane season has a long way to go. We are still weeks away from the climatological peak. I personally hope we don't see another one. But the odds are strongly in favor of many more to come.

Let's assess the accuracy of the season's predictions sometime in December.


greg

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@COOLCHILLY

Why are you complaining about that in the weather section?

DUH!!!!!!!

Posted by: jwash4472 | August 31, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What does it take for us to get some rain around here? I have watered my garden almost every other day this summer. Sheesh.

Posted by: egengle | August 31, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Earl spit out a big outflow boundary on the west side.. looks like the dry air is working into the system at least a bit.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Note, comments by COOLCHILLY and Jiggidy have been unpublished. We won't tolerate racist comments or name-calling here.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

More surf!

Assateague was great last weekend. Except for the crowds in the break. When I get some pics of the surf up I'll link to them on the FB page. May be a day or two...

Posted by: wiredog | August 31, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Where are you egengle???

Despite the current dry period, in my area of southwest Arlington County we've had plenty of rain this summer and the lawns are green....another example of "much-needed-rain" whining.

The pocket of dry air over our area will probably weaken Hurricane Earl by cutting off Earl's fuel supply of warm MOIST air. Most warm-core tropical cyclones derive their intensification energy by converting heat of condensation [of water] to kinetic energy. Whenever dry air is drawn into the system [regardless of air temperature], the lack of energy-rich water vapor starves the cyclone of its fuel supply.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | August 31, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"we've got a lot of catching up to do for this to be the extremely active year we've been promised/warned about."

I noticed that too Walter. Just like in 2009, the predictions in the spring were for a dire hurricane season, with several named storms directly impacting the US. So far there has been basically nothing.

You notice how the media (no matter which outlet) is hyping up Earl to almost ridiculous levels? Surf around at the headlines..."Earl to impact Carolinas by the weekend" and the like. Of course by the weekend, Saturday morning, the storm will be off New England or the Maritime provinces.

And pretty much every computer model has the storm making a sharp turn to the north/northeast, bouncing off the cool front which will be lowering the temps here for the weekend. Literally every potential track I've seen shows the same thing...but for no other reason but to hype up a bad prediction, the headlines are all practically screaming about a much more serious impact.

It all goes back to another misfired prediction. As you say, it's already September and there has been nothing of note, very similar to last year. While of course having very few big storms is a good thing, it really makes you wonder if the early predictions were made just to get more papers sold, or clicks on websites.


Posted by: jollyroger2 | August 31, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

If Earl stays 2 far E 2 bring us any rain, then it looks like little or no rain 4 at least 2 weeks. While this will make the dance crowd happy, it looks like bad news 4 trees, bushes, yards & wells. We really need a tropical system bring some rain, or we could b looking at drought cond. this fall.

Posted by: VaTechBob | August 31, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

i think its funny the comments about the media hyping things up like it hasn't been happening since the press was invented. haven't yall seen "Mad City"? lol (ps it IS a good movie)

Posted by: jssgator | August 31, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@jollyroger2

Regarding your comment -- "Just like in 2009, the predictions in the spring were for a dire hurricane season, with several named storms directly impacting the US. So far there has been basically nothing."

NOAA's seasonal hurricane forecasts do not make predictions regarding landfall due to the lack of predictability until a storm has at least formed. From NOAA's outlook for this hurricane season -- "This outlook is general guide to the expected overall activity during the hurricane season. It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not predict levels of activity for any particular region."

The annual outlook from the experts at Colorado State makes some attempt to address the question of landfall potential. But even they only go as far as to offer probabilities for at least one major (category 3-4-5) hurricane landfall on different U.S. coastal areas.

-Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

gregpostel, re "promises/warnings" for and active hurricane season, you said,

"(2) Nobody promised a thing. At least not the scientists who make the predictions. Maybe certain media outlets you listen to twisted the information?"

defensive much? maybe you misconstrued "promise". i'm using it loosely, in the sense of a weather forcast - like saying CWG has "promised" cooler temps and partly to mostly sunny skies for the weekend. i know there's uncertainty.

as far as who's predictions those are, i read about them here at CWG, in articles you wrote, but they came from, i presume scientists at, Tropical Storm Risk, NWS, NOAA, colorado state university, weather bug and accuweather - as outlined in your posts....

i really don't CWG twisted anything in reporting it the way you/they did...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/05/2010_hurricane_season_outlooks.html

where you yourself said, "Nearly unanimously, forecasts for the 2010 hurricane season are calling for a very active one."

and later:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/08/noaa_says_active_hurricane_sea.html

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 31, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

At this point we are above average in both named storms and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE). 2 cat 4s in a week is rare... 2005 was a year we may never see again in our lives.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

My roommate is flying out to Providence on Saturday. I'm getting worried about whether her flight will be able to get in. Any word either way?

Posted by: epjd | August 31, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@walter-in-falls-church

I think all Greg is saying that we need to wait to make an honest assessment of these predictions. None of these seasonal forecasts predicted another 2005 (which was an exceptional season) -- and 2010 could still be "a very active season" even if we're only up to "F" in late August.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

ian,
above average already, huh? thanks. my perception of this being a quiet year so far must have to do with so few landfalls. and, it seems like you all are forecasting (but not promising...) for things to "pick up" in the next month or so?

also, i noticed that only 3 of those 6 named storms became hurricanes, and that if we get to "W" it will be named "walter"...a good name, that....

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 31, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

@epjd

Earl will be rapidly pulling away from New England during the day Saturday. While there could be a few backlash delays, wouldn't worry too much.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | August 31, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Well, I for one wouldn't be surprised if it heads towards D.C.

After all, we've had freak snowstorms, freak heat waves, a freak earthquake - it's only natural that a freak hurricane is next.

Meh. Call me when the locusts are back in, say, November?

Posted by: SWester2010 | August 31, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch, 2005 was not just an active year, not just an extremely active year, but the most active year ever for Atlantic hurricanes -- and by a wide margin!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Atlantic_hurricane_season
Remember, 2005 was the year we ran out of letters of the alphabet, and had to name them things like Hurricane Beta and Hurricane Epsilon. So it doesn't have to be a duplicate of 2005 to be a very active year.

I also suggest you look at the chart near the bottom of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Atlantic_hurricane_seasons
which shows that we've had a lot of active years recently (I'd discount the section of the chart before the Sixties, since without weather satellites there was less certainty about how many hurricanes there were in total).

Posted by: jimmosk | August 31, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

good stuff there, jimmosk. 2005 was crazy.

as i mentioned, i saw somewhere that if we get to "W" it will be depression/storm/hurricane walter. i'm guessing we probably won't get to walter. so if that's the case, would they have a different name for the potential "W" storm next year? i.e., do they keep the unused names in the queue until they're used?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 31, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Hi walter-in-fallschurch,

Right. To summarizes the predictions I did say:

"Nearly unanimously, forecasts for the 2010 hurricane season are calling for a very active one."

True statement.

Just 2 sentences later, I also said about these forecasts:

" ... a sensible approach is to use them with caution - just as many of the forecasters who make them advise."


There's no 'sky-is-falling' alert here. And relax, the forecasts for the 2010 hurricane season may end up being right on.

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Walter:
They rotate the un-retired names every six years. So you'll have to wait until 2016 to see a depression/storm/hurricane walter if it doesn't occur this year.

Posted by: bflorhodes | August 31, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi all,

by the way, Earl looks ill on the satellite presentation. I don't know if the internal structure has been disrupted, but the IR suggests maybe there's a bit of weakening taking place.

Dry air doing damage ?

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

bflorhodes,
thanks for the response.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 31, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The Weather Channel at 4 pm said the projected track for Earl has moved a bit to the west.

Posted by: jaybird926 | August 31, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Hi jaybird,

NHC shifed the track
"A FEW
MILES TO THE WEST BEFORE 48 HOURS"

Personally, I would be hesitant to read much into that.

There is a tight cluster now in the multi-model ensemble guidance that keeps the center of Earl roughly 100 miles off the eastern most tip of the Outer Banks.

From the data I see, as of now I'm not bullish on a landfall.

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

SWester2010 wrote:

Well, I for one wouldn't be surprised if it heads towards D.C.

After all, we've had freak snowstorms, freak heat waves, a freak earthquake - it's only natural that a freak hurricane is next.

-------------------------------------------

You forgot the freak Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin making their way to DC.

Posted by: waxtraxs | August 31, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Hi all,

I just got some statistics from the Colorado State hurricane prediction group:

After the "slow" start to the season (which really wasn't so compared to climatology), we are now running about 150% of average (1950-2009) activity through the end of Aug in these categories:

(1) number of named storms
(2)named storm days
(3)hurricanes
(4) hurricane days
(5) major hurricanes
(6)major hurricane days
(7) accumulated cyclone energy

interesting.


greg

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I saw something on History channel about directed energy and how our government and Russian can steer the direction of a hurricane and even affect its strength. Is this true?

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 31, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Hi SusanMarie2,

(1) I doubt they can

(2) I hope they can't

Unintended consequences. Never fool with Mother Nature.

Posted by: gregpostel | August 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and create earthquakes by directing energy to fault areas...

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 31, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Well, the AF definitely has directed energy programs and they used info from that. Weather Wars info is all over the web.

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 31, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they are shooting Earl down as we speak...

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 31, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I continue to love this website, and the discussions on it, more than any other.

Posted by: --sg | August 31, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company