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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 09/ 3/2010

Earl eyes New England after lashing N.C.

By Capital Weather Gang

Conditions on VA/MD/DE shore improve this evening

* Weekend cool-down: Full Forecast | BeachCast *
* Hurricane Tracking Center | Warmest summer on record *


Radar & lightning: Latest regional radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

updated at 11 a.m.

Hurricane Earl, with its eye well offshore, is making its way up the Atlantic coast, with its southern bands of rain lingering across northeastern N.C. and the Outer Banks a few more hours, and its northern rain bands now reaching southern New England. Earl has been nasty along parts of the N.C. coast, but far from historic with sustained winds failing to even reach hurricane force. The storm has steadily weakened, down to a Category 1 hurricane as of 11 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and higher gusts.

VA/MD/DE Beaches

Showers and gusty winds last through much of the day, but nothing worse than sustained tropical-storm force winds (outside chance at a hurricane-force wind gust) and mostly minor flooding is expected. Currently, winds gusts are primarily in the 25-40 mph range, but should increase during the day. Conditions should rapidly improve this evening, leading into a nice but cool Labor Day Weekend at the beach. Note, the beaches themselves will probably be roughed up, with today's high surf and rip currents (stay out of the water today) possibly lingering into the weekend.

Keep reading for more on Earl's impact from North Carolina to New England...

Latest Earl infrared satellite loop, courtesy Unisys;. Click here; to expand. Refresh page to update. See more maps on our Weather Wall

Here's more on the MD/DE beaches from the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, Pa.:

...WINDS...
AS HURRICANE EARL APPROACHES...SUSTAINED TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO BEGIN. MAXIMUM WINDS ARE FORECAST TO BE IN THE 25 TO 35 MPH RANGE WITH GUSTS TO 45 MPH.

MINOR DAMAGE MAY OCCUR TO OLDER MOBILE HOMES. RESIDENTS SHOULD MOVE LOOSE ITEMS INDOORS...SUCH AS GARBAGE CANS AND OUTDOOR FURNITURE...AS THEY WILL BE BLOWN AROUND. NEWLY PLANTED OR YOUNG TREES AND SHRUBS MAY BE UPROOTED IF NOT SECURED PROPERLY. ISOLATED
POWER OUTAGES WILL BE POSSIBLE.

...STORM SURGE AND STORM TIDE...
THE IMPACT FROM COMBINED STORM SURGE AND TIDE WATERS IS EXPECTED TO BE MINOR TO LOCALLY MODERATE. THE STORM SURGE IS FORECAST TO RANGE FROM 1 TO 2 FEET...AND LOCALLY 3 FEET.

THE GREATEST IMPACT IS LIKELY TO OCCUR AROUND THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE THIS AFTERNOON. HIGH TIDE OCCURS BETWEEN 300 PM AND 500 PM.

...COASTAL HAZARDS...
HIGH SURF IS EXPECTED WITH MINOR TO MODERATE BEACH EROSION OCCURRING THROUGH TODAY.

For southeastern Va., including Virginia Beach and the lower Chesapeake Bay, the National Weather Service cautions:

MINOR COASTAL FLOODING IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE TIDEWATER REGION AND ALONG THE SOUTHERN CHESAPEAKE BAY...WITH STORM SURGE VALUES EXPECTED TO PEAK BETWEEN 1.5 AND 2 FEET.

THE ANTICIPATED STORM SURGE COMBINED WITH THE HIGH SURF WILL CAUSE SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION AND OVERWASH ISSUES ALONG THE MID ATLANTIC COAST...MOST NOTABLY FROM VIRGINIA BEACH SOUTH.

New England

CWG's Andrew Freedman gives us the latest on what's in store for New England as Earl reaches there tonight into tomorrow...

On its current trajectory, the most significant impacts from Hurricane Earl will be confined to southeastern Mass., Rhode Island and eastern Long Island. Far southeastern Connecticut may get in on the act as well, but by and large the track the storm seems to be taking -- staying offshore of Nantucket Island by about 20 to 40 miles -- will spare much of metro Boston and Providence from strong tropical storm-force to hurricane-force winds and very heavy rain. Instead, most residents of coastal southern New England will experience a Nor'easter-type storm, with some windswept rains that may down trees and power lines here and there (especially on the outer Cape), but this doesn't look to be a storm that will go down in New England weather lore, like Hurricanes Gloria in 1985 and Bob in 1991, or the grandaddy of them all, the Great Hurricane of 1938, which killed hundreds.
The worst rain and winds will affect southeastern New England from late this evening through early morning Saturday, with clearing and breezy conditions taking hold by midday Saturday. The coastline of eastern Mass. may see tropical storm-force wind gusts and about one to two inches of rain. The further southeast you go, the greater the storm impacts are likely to be. On Cape Cod, wind gusts may reach close to hurricane force, and rainfall of two to four inches, with locally higher amounts, are possible. The storm will be moving so quickly, courtesy of the jet stream, that it won't have time to dump much more rain than that. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket will see the strongest winds and heaviest rains from Earl, with Category 1 hurricane-force wind gusts possible.
Of course, if the track of Earl shifts to the northwest by about 30 to 50 miles, then all of these areas would be in for more significant wind damage, but most computer models, as well as the latest satellite and radar trends, indicate that the storm is on a path that would take it to the southeast of Nantucket. A landfall on Nantucket, or even Cape Cod, is still possible, but is not the most likely scenario at this time.
The National Weather Service in Boston has indicated it is not particularly concerned about storm surge flooding, although high surf and rip currents are a major concern. Meteorologist Rob Carver of Weather Underground broke down the surge threat this way: "1-2 feet are expected along the NJ coast, with 3 feet possible in some locations. Eastern Long Island may have 2-4 feet surges along the Long Island Sound and Petonic and Gardines Bay."

North Carolina

As of earlier this morning, peak sustained winds along the N.C. coast were in the 45-60 mph range (tropical storm force) with gusts as high as around 75-80 mph, and maximum storm surges were around 2-3 feet resulting in ocean overwash.

3 to 5 inches of rain and significant flooding was reported in the Outer Banks with amounts decreasing to around 2 inches or less for much of mainland North Carolina. CWG's Greg Postel reports that the peak winds at Cape Hatteras were shortly before 3 a.m., sustained at 35 mph with a gust to 62 mph. More N.C. observations here.

Conditions are to rapidly improve -- with flood waters and overwash receding -- as Earl continues to move north and east away from the area into this afternoon.

By Capital Weather Gang  | September 3, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
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Next: Hurricane Earl's sunset sequence

Comments

Hi all,

It's important to remember that only tropical storm conditions have been reported so far. Wind gusts are irrelevant in the categorization of tropical cyclones. A tropical storm with 50 mph winds could produce 90 mph gusts. When considered truthfully, a minimal category 1 hurricane can create wind gusts well over 100 mph.

I have seen no evidence yet of anything stronger than mid-range tropical storm force conditions. Anywhere.

**Category 1 conditions have stayed offshore.**

Thank goodness.

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | September 3, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I thought there would be no rain from Earl, but it looks like from the radar, that the Eastern side of our area (Anne Arundel and maybe PG Counties) might be getting some rain now (around 11:15 am Friday). Is this not true?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | September 3, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oregon Inlet saw gusts over 80+ mph overnight as some of the stronger bands rotated through.

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | September 3, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Regional radar shows a fascinating pattern right now, a bow-shaped curvature, a C instead of a D if you will, of strong colors of rain, very long, and nudging up to DC.


Posted by: jaybird926 | September 3, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It would be great if we got some rain -- just showers. The air needs a bit of scrubbing, no?

Posted by: rosilandjordan | September 3, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

While researching my book, Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States, I discovered that tropical cyclones tracking within a few hundred miles of each other within several weeks often follow roughly parallel tracks.

The peak of hurricane season has seven weeks to go. Any hurricane that tracks west of Earl in the western Atlantic will likely cause trouble.

Apparently, the Mid-Atlantic region will get off relatively easy with Earl. But the coming weeks are no time for complacency.

Posted by: ricschwartz | September 3, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey all..sorry I didnt post earlier. Im down here in Kill Devil Hills - if you were watching Weather Channel at all since Tuesday, you probably saw me with Cantore in Hatteras (Tues) and Abrams (Wed and this morning) in KDH. As some of you know I am a Red Cross national spokesman for larger disasters that draw the national media in droves - like Earl...to summarize - it was a nasty morning from about 3am till 9am here in the northern beaches...Im about 10 miles north of Oregon Inlet, and can say we probably had Hurricane force gusts here and sustained in the 50-60 mph range which was exactly what was expected. Last rain band is rotating thru now, and the national media is rolling out...therefore, my duties are done and I am heading home. The backbone of the Red Cross is ready to take over as needed - we have a lot of supplies, food, and manpower ready to go on the mainland. It was a very good "exercise" for the big one...a Cat 4 doesnt come barreling this way too often and most folks listened to the local authorities when they were told to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke Isles...looks like about 5 inches of rain in the KDH/Nags Head area and another inch may fall in this last band. For perspective, the worst of the storm here in KDH was similar to Snoverkill on Feb 9-10 in DC; the wind was soul crushing, the precip was sideways and the seas were angry...but we didnt quite get the precip amounts you see in some other tropical systems. Of course its 50 degrees warmer here too...Im an old school pre-WaPo frequenter of this blog and really love being part of this community. Hope you all have a great holiday weekend. NC dodged a real bullet; lets hope New England can laugh Earl off like a Nor'easter.

Posted by: DullesARC | September 3, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Climatologically we should hit peak hurricane frequency in about a week and then start the downtrend to about 1/2 the peak by the end of Sept. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/klotzbach_gray_sep01_14.jpg

Posted by: eric654 | September 3, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Just out of Chicago...Tom Skillling reports that the cool air has displaced the heat up there. Up in Wisconsin, fifties and sixties are forecast at midday over the weekend.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 3, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

ricschwartz, I sort of agree. I think a lot of years you see a pattern set up with tracks. That said, it's hard to get a CV storm all the way across. But as we get deeper into "fall" there is a better chance of getting an approaching cold front/trough to line up right to pull a storm into the coast quicker -- which is something we need if we're not looking for a repeat. Some of the longer range model outputs are showing another large storm trying to go west of Bermuda in about 10 days+ but that's still fantasy range.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 3, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@DullesARC

Thanks for the very detailed, useful report. I can remember your comments from the early CapitalWeather.com days and we all really appreciate your comments/insights.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 3, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Hi JJones-CapitalWeatherGang,

Right. Those are tropical storm conditions. A medium tropical storm, with sustained winds of 55 mph will easily produce 80+ mph gusts.

With Earl, hurricane conditions remained offshore.

Gusts are irrelevant in the classification of tropical cyclones.


greg

Posted by: gregpostel | September 3, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

OK, we've had our Earl-y east coast hurricane, which mercifully spared NC the worst, but could still wreak havoc on Cape Cod and the islands and Nova Scotia.

There are two more Cape Verde systems, what's left of Gaston, which may or may not reintensify, and a potential storm off of West Africa.

After a bit of flurry in Gulf of Mexico, things quieted down there and so far the Caribbean has been a big warm bathtub.

Is this going to be just a Cape Verde hurricane season with the storms curving out to sea or barely brushing the east coast, as Earl has so far done? Or, will the Caribbean fire up?

I very much hope the NHS was wrong in their prediction about this being a bad hurricane season. But I also wonder what is, or is not, happening in steering currents, with La Nina, etc. that could impact the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season during the next two months?

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | September 3, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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