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, 09/ 1/2010

Hurricane Earl watches for VA/MD/DE beaches

By Greg Postel

Earl's strongest winds to likely remain offshore

* How much more heat? Full Forecast | Hurricane Tracking Center *
* Summer 2010 hottest on record in Washington *

As of 11 a.m., Hurricane Earl was positioned 725 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras and is moving northwest at 17 mph. Most computer models continue to indicate Earl will remain offshore though a couple have the center briefly passing over the North Carolina outer banks, where a hurricane warning is in effect. A hurricane watch covers the VA/MD/DE beaches. Earl's maximum sustained winds are 125 mph, down from 135 mph this yesterday -- making it a Category 3 storm.

earl-hurricane-wind-probs.jpg
Probability of hurricane force winds along the U.S. East Coast. Source National Hurricane Center.

Significant marine impacts are expected along many mid-Atlantic coastal locations with rough seas and dangerous rip currents. Despite its weakening, since Earl is a rather large hurricane, tropical-storm force wind gusts in rain squalls will likely brush the Outer Banks for several hours very early Friday morning. High seas up to 25 feet are possible just offshore of the Outer Banks (10-15 feet offshore VA/MD/DE beaches) with significant ocean overwash and sound-side flooding.

For the VA/MD/DE beaches, impacts will likely be less pronounced but not insignificant. Some showers and wind gusts to tropical-storm force are possible late Thursday night into Friday, with strong wave action, dangerous rip currents, and the possibility of minor coastal flooding. Though a hurricane watch has been issued for the VA/MD/DE beaches, hurricane force winds are not especially likely there unless the storm shifts west.

For the immediate D.C. metro region, the National Weather Service Office in Sterling, Va. summarizes the threat accordingly:

3AM EARLY FRIDAY MORNING UNTIL 3 PM FRIDAY AFTERNOON HURRICANE EARL WILL MAKE ITS CLOSEST PASS BY OUR AREA. HOW CLOSE IT COMES WILL DETERMINE OUR IMPACT. IF THE STORM STAYS ON ITS CURRENT FORECAST TRACK WELL OFFSHORE ... OUR IMPACTS WILL BE MINIMAL. HOWEVER IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THIS IS A VERY POWERFUL HURRICANE...ANY ADJUSTMENT OF THE FORECAST TRACK TO THE WEST OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS WILL QUICKLY RAMP UP THE IMPACT TO OUR AREA. EVERYONE NEEDS TO STAY INFORMED ON THIS STORM AND READY TO REACT UNTIL IT PASSES. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR THOSE GOING TO THE BEACHES EARLY THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND.

We concur with this assessment.

The track guidance, while remarkably consistent over the last couple of days given the characteristic uncertainty involved with forecasting a tropical cyclone's recurvature into the westerlies, continues to advertise a near miss. This is consistent with the theme our recent posts have presented; namely, that the core of Earl will likely remain offshore. The track models are clustered around the idea that Earl's eyewall will indeed recurve out to 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.

As Earl moves northward later Friday, the storm is still expected to remain off the Northeast U.S. Coast. The most recent hurricane tracks move Earl a little closer to coastal New England. Fortunately, cooler ocean waters and strengthening winds aloft should weaken Earl rapidly once it gets north of 40 degrees latitude (roughly the latitude of New York City). And though gusty winds of tropical storm strength and rain squalls may graze coastal New England late Friday, these conditions shouldn't last more than 6-8 hours given Earl's rapid movement away from the mainland.

earl-atl-vis-090110.jpgVisible satellite image of Earl at 11:00 a.m. today (9/1/2010). Source National Hurricane Center.

During the past 18 hours, Earl's satellite presentation has exhibited progressively less symmetry. Looking more like a comma, and less like a circular buzzsaw, Earl appears to be battling with a hostile environment. Perhaps choking a bit on the extremely dry air surrounding its northern and western periphery (shown by the bronze shading in the given link), Earl's once coherent inner structure may be unraveling.

As mentioned in yesterday's update, the penetration of dry air into a tropical cyclone's primary circulation can indeed be damaging. Like an ice skater pulling 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.

If that is indeed the case, and Earl is inhaling the arid surroundings, we may start to see a weakening trend that is irreversible. There is probably not enough time for it to reorganize and redevelop a resistance to the inward penetration of the Saharan Air Layer on its edges (this layer of desert-like air originated over the Saharan desert) before the ill effects of the wind shear associated with the incoming trough do their damage.

CWG's Jason Samenow contributed to this post

By Greg Postel  | September 1, 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: Summer 2010 hottest on record in Washington
Next: The thunderstorm and the Battle of Ox Hill

Comments

We are all going to die!!!!!!!!!

Maybe not

Posted by: Bious | September 1, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Well, we are all going to die, just not from Earl.

Posted by: wiredog | September 1, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

don't worry about it, Pat Robertson and his virginia beach buttbuddies are going to pray it away

Posted by: eezmamata | September 1, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, individual model and ensemble predictions of Earl’s track have been remarkably consistent, especially given recurvature into the westerlies is generally much more problematic, i.e., larger uncertainty.

One major reason appears to be that there is little uncertainty in the approaching 500mb trough and Earl does not interact significantly with it until late Friday afternoon (500mb: weather systems at about 18,000 feet above sea level). To illustrate, the figure shows this morning’s (5 AM) Short Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF) run with the approaching trough and the reflection of Earl at 500 mb - delineated by the ensemble possibilities in the 576 dm contour. (For non geeks, no need for concern about this detail, other than noting that differences between ensemble members is small until the trough and Earl begin to interact).

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | September 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to die

Posted by: trollboy69 | September 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

trollboy69 - stay away from shore and you'll be ok in DC.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | September 1, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

i'm flying out from DCA 8pm thursday night. do you expect significant flight delays? or is it just too early to tell if it gets close enough.

Posted by: GregSB | September 1, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Note that the previous HRCN watch for the Outer Banks was upgraded to a HRCN warning. See text from the public advisory issued by NHC at 11 am today:

A HURRICANE WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED
STATES FROM BOGUE INLET NORTH CAROLINA NORTHEASTWARD TO THE NORTH
CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER...INCLUDING THE PAMLICO AND ALBEMARLE
SOUNDS.

THE HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ADJUSTED NORTHWARD AND NOW EXTENDS FROM
THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER NORTHWARD TO CAPE HENLOPEN
DELAWARE.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM CAPE FEAR TO WEST OF
BOGUE INLET.

Posted by: carusocm | September 1, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I remember the remnants of hurricane Ivan, which spun off some tornadoes in our area. Any chance of that this time?

Posted by: crazyha | September 1, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Any reason to expect flight disruptions on Friday night? I have an 8PM from DCA to Miami. Thanks!

Posted by: miacane1 | September 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@miacane1 & @GregSB

Don't see any weather here in the D.C.-Baltimore area that would cause flight delays Thursday night or Friday night, but there's always a chance of ripple effects from elsewhere along the East Coast.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 1, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

You always joke about CA and its earthquakes. Welcome to global warming and the result is Earl, Fiona, and a slew of other named hurricanes headed your way this year (The season isn't over til November). You have the advantage of seeing potential danger coming where in CA we have the saying, "Ignorance is Bliss" as we sit and wait for the Big One.

Posted by: ksmccarthy0101 | September 1, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

On a related note, PEPCO has cancelled all electricity for Montgomery County beginning Friday night, September 3rd. PEPCO states service for all residents should resume anywhere from Sunday morning through Thanksgiving.

MoCo residents, stock up on block ice and k-rations.

Posted by: lapsedatheist | September 1, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi from the northern OBX! Hard to believe there is a storm out there, not a cloud in the sky and barely a breeze. We have not been evacuated so far and I'm hoping it stays that way. We've written Friday off weather wise, just wondering how soon the weather will deteriorate tomorrow. Any thoughts?

Thanks for all the Earl coverage, it's nice to read something down to earth and not all full of hype.

Posted by: ana_b | September 1, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The Weather Channel is planning a special program about this hurricane. It will be titled, "My Name is Earl."

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | September 1, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

@sasquatchbigfoot, will the weather channel start the "My Name is Earl" program with these lyrics:

"I once had an Earl
Or should I say, he once had me..."

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | September 1, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

hi crazyha,

highly unlikely. DC area might very well get away with only high cirrus clouds to filter out the sun, and a light northerly breeze.

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | September 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

To Crazyha,

Tornadoes usually occur within the northeastern quadrant of a hurricane. And, since the DC area will (even if Earl makes landfall in a worst case scenario) most likely remain on the western side of Earl, the chances are slim to none of seeing any tornadoes here. Greg is probably right on the money.

Posted by: putdepuckindenet | September 1, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

So the watch goes to Cape Henlopen now. We just (two weeks ago) bought a house on the water 6 miles up the DE bay from Henlopen. Part of me is interested to see what this storm does to the surf at the mouth of the bay, part of me is terrified about it flooding everything out. I hope the first storm is the hardest!

Posted by: bachaney | September 1, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Just got a call from my son who was renting a house this week in Avon, NC. There is a mandatory evacuation in effect.

Posted by: dadofmeg | September 1, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

With Earl heading over the mouth of Chesapeake Bay is potential there for pushing water into Bay and creating problems at high tiden for Annapolis and Baltimore?

Posted by: idiparker | September 1, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

40 degrees north latitude is Philadelphia, not New York.

Posted by: jeadpt | September 1, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Hi jeadpt,

you're right. My fault. New York is 40.6N

:)

I think i did say that 40 is "roughly" the latitude of New York City, no ?

greg

Posted by: gregpostel | September 1, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Everyone! Hurry! Run to the nearest WalMart Superstore and buy up ALL the toilet paper, bread and milk. It's good juju and scares away the hurricane- and in fact, ANY natural disaster can be warded off in this manner. It's my understanding it's even MORE effective if you wait until rush hour of whatever day the impending doom is scheduled to occur, and stand in long lines full of frustrated, tired and irritable people who will realize once they get home and have no power for days on end that they should have skipped the milk and invested in ice and beer instead.

Posted by: bigpaws12 | September 1, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

storm has strengthened and shifted west. oh noez

Posted by: samdman95 | September 1, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm excited about this hurricane and want it to get stronger and move closer inland. What's wrong with me?

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | September 1, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

@SusanMarie2: You have Snowmadeggon Fever, which you may have contracted last winter without realizing it. It's incurable, but easily controlled by regular doses of CWG - at least once a day, preferably twice.

Posted by: --sg | September 1, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

sg, thanks, I'll keep checking in for my therapy!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | September 1, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

The Capital Weather Gang is doing a great job. We are watching the East Coast closely and with great concern from Houston. Safety must be your top priority. For anyone interested, please see www.wunderground.com for helpful information that is widely respected by residents of the Gulf Coast.

Posted by: MyHouston | September 2, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company