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August 29, 2010

Earl now a hurricane; sweep up East Coast likely

The fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is now a hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center's forecast shows Hurricane Earl growing to "major" proportions and making a sweep up the East Coast late this week.

For now, the center of the forecast "cone of uncertainty" keeps the storm well east of a direct landfall. But we seem quite likely to see rough surf and dangerous rip currents at the beaches as we approach the Labor Day weekend.

UPDATE: Strong surf and beach currents from Hurricane Danielle were causing problems at Ocean City this weekend. Earl could well be worse since it is forecast to pass closer to shore.

The hurricane center puts Earl's center less than 200 miles east of the island of Antigua, in the Northern NOAA EarlLeewards. It is moving west northwest at 15 mph, with top sustained winds of 75 mph - just above minimal hurricane force. Here are the warnings and watches in effect Sunday afternoon:

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* ANTIGUA...BARBUDA...MONTSERRAT...ST. KITTS...NEVIS...AND ANGUILLA
* SAINT MARTIN AND SAINT BARTHELEMY
* ST. MAARTEN...SABA...AND ST. EUSTATIUS

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
* PUERTO RICO INCLUDING THE ISLANDS OF CULEBRA AND VIEQUES

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
* PUERTO RICO INCLUDING THE ISLANDS OF CULEBRA AND VIEQUES

Forecasters say conditions are favorable for further strengthening as Earl approaches the Northern Leewards. The storm is expected to become a major (Cat. 3, 111 mph) storm within 36 hours. Forecasters at Sterling, Va. are now noting that the Baltimore-Washington area will need to keep a watch on the tropical system by the end of the week.

Here is the latest forecast advisory for Earl. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:34 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Comments

Don't hype it. It will be carried out to sea by the trough coming through mid to late week. All models now have this solution. But yes, it does need to be watched in case the trough is delayed, but right now that does not look to be the case.

I too am getting annoyed with all this hurricane Hype. The atmospheric log jam has not abated and all of these hurricanes / tropical systems are being steered well east of the US due to the ridge / jetstream configuration. This is one of the reasons we have had such little rain in western maryland, (jetstream configuration and La Nina). We have not had measurable rain since August 12 and there is none forecast through September 11th! (about as far out as models will go). Big deal, a hurricane that is spinning safely over open water, meanwhile areas in Mayland will sink further into drought, that is the bigger story.

FR: We'll see. But a hurricane does not have to make landfall to be dangerous, as we learned in Ocean City this weekend.

I don't see any hype. FR has just stated facts that people should pay attention to if they are heading for OC for the holiday weekend. If only the 251 swimmers had listened last weekend our life guards would not have had such a busy work week.

Rip currents are a risk as what occured at Ocean City, (they are also a risk for nominal coastal storms as well). Its just the media gets into a frenzy now whenever a hurricane forms in the Atlantic as if its Katrina all over again. Once thing to note, the National Hurricane Center states that model guidance can be off 200-300 miles at day 4 and 5 of their projections so given that, Earl "could" swipe the Carolinas on its western flank. If the trough delays its arrival the hurricane could parallel the coast like Gloria did in 1986 but even in that scenario, Maryland would not receive needed rain in the western part of the state.

FR: So I should write something that says, "Pay no attention to Earl. The storm poses no risk to Western Maryland, and won't bring needed rain" ? The trouble with hurricanes is that they are very unpredictable. If the media ignore them until they are on our doorstep, we would be accused of failing to give adequate warning. We are following the lead of hurricane forecasters, and they are urging coastal interests to pay attention. Some models do, in fact, bring Earl ashore in the Carolinas.And if you think readers aren't interested, and seeking more information, you need to look at our web traffic.

This one looks like it could turn out to be quite a powerful storm. Love that shot of it as seen from space. It's truly amazing how intense these storms can be. We'll have to keep an eye out come Friday.

I was not referring to this blog, but the general "media", this is a weather blog so you would expect lots about a Cat-4 hurricane such as Earl. I apologize if my comments were stated out of the proper context. I have tracked hurricanes for 30 years, and yes, I have seen them do complete loops and retrace backwards, dissipate and re-energize and I can recall one that went from depression to Cat-4 in two days. Hence, I appreciate the info you are providing because it is sound weather data, its the general media hype I was referring to which is often done for sensationalism and not public safety.

On a weather note, the ridge to north and east of Earl is building and if the trough slows, it will make landfall near where Fran did in 1996, near Cape Race, NC and that storm did bring flooding rains to this area. Secondly, Fiorna is now two days behind earl and that will certainly track further west then Earl and likely less intense due to the shear Earl will create in the atmosphere in that region.

FR: I appreciate the clarification. But I'd be curious to know exactly what you've seen or heard that struck you as "hype" done "for sensationalism and not public safety." What have I missed?

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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