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August 31, 2010

Forecast keeps Earl offshore

This morning's forecast from the National Hurricane Center continues to keep Hurricane Earl off the mid-Atlantic coast when it arrives there on Friday. None of the forecast computer models bring the storm's center to a direct landfall.

There is also some indication that, as the storm moves into increased wind shear, and over cooler waters, Weather Underground forecast modelsits strength is likely to diminish from the dangerous 135-mph, Category 4 rating it holds Tuesday morning.

Even so, forecasters are advising interests along the U.S. East Coast from Cape Hatteras to New England to continue to monitor Earl as the storm pulls away from the Northern Leeward Islands. Strong surf and dangerous rip currents continue to be a real hazard as the weekend approaches.

Earl's center was located this morning about 150 miles north northwest of Puerto Rico, moving to the west northwest at 13 mph. A gradual turn to the northwest was expected today, with that direction continuing through Wednesday.

The forecast storm track carries Earl to a point just off Cape Hatteras by early Friday, and off Delmarva later in the day. Central winds by that point are still expected to retain "major" Cat. 3 power. Successive tracks have seen the storm's most likely path creep slightly to the west. NOAA

But the official expectation is that Earl will stay offshore as it runs up the coast, funneled between high pressure spinning clockwise to the storm's east, and a low-pressure trough moving into the northeastern U.S. The latter system is forecast to bring Maryland cooler weather by the weekend, but exactly where the two systems will steer Earl remains unclear:

"SUBTLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE TWO FEATURES WILL BE THE DETERMINING FACTOR...A QUESTION WHICH HAS NOT BEEN SETTLED YET."

The other issue to keep in mind is how broad an area Earl, and its effects, will cover as it tracks up the coast. The National Hurricane Center forecasters say the storm's worst effects will be somewhat limited:

"GUIDANCE KEEPS A TIGHT GRADIENT OF THE TROPICAL SYSTEM/S EFFECTS AS IT MOVES PARALLEL TO
THE COAST...ONCE IT MOVES NORTHEAST OF CAPE HATTERAS. THE WESTERNMOST
EXTENT OF THE TROPICAL EFFECTS WOULD BE LIMITED TO THE COASTAL
AREAS ALONG THE ATLANTIC SHORES FROM THE VA TIDEWATER TO SOUTHERN NEW
ENGLAND."

That would spare most of Maryland. On the other hand, much of the state could use a hefty does of tropical moisture. If the forecast is correct, only the coastal counties would get the full benefit. 

Here is the latest advisory on Earl. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:47 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Comments

Keeping an eye on the forecast since I'm supposed to fly out to San Francisco Friday morning. How worried should I be about Earl affecting flights?

FR: I don't see much of an issue at BWI unless the forecast changes quite a bit in the next 48 hours.

So it looks like we're still okay to leave Friday morning for an extended trip to New Bern, NC. Is there any danger expected from Fiona? We're supposed to come back Tuesday.

FR: Tropical Storm Fiona, for now, is not expected to reach hurricane strength, and is forecast to remain far offshore, a threat mostly to Bermuda. But keep checking the forecast. It can change.

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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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