Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Earl. Brace yourselves.

Hurricane Earl is now a category 3 cyclone currently passing north of St. Maarten in the Caribbean and probably north of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico can expect some heavy rains and the islands to west of Earl's path can expect some hurricane force winds. Earl is currently tracking roughly west at 13 knots (24 kmh/15 mph).

Hurricane warning have been issued for Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Monserrat, St. Kitts, St. Martn and St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Culebra, Vieques and Nevis. Puerto Rico is on a hurricane watch. Other areas are on tropical storm warnings or tropical storm watches.

Every indication is that Earl will intensify over the next 24 hours. There is next to no wind shear and ocean temperatures favour further development. Given the location of the cyclone it should begin to recurve toward the northwest by tomorrow as it moves around the subtropical ridge. It is then expected to curve northward then eventually northeast.

Within 96 hours Earl should encounter much higher wind shear and rapidly cooling sea surface temperatures which will reduce its intensity.

It is still too early to accurately forecast a landfall although the track forecast is for a greater than 20 percent chance that Earl will cross the shore on the US Eastern seaboard. If the system recurves around the subtropical high as expected it may remain to the east and to seaward as it passes up the US east coast.

There is a possibility that Earl could make landfall in the northern New England states or Nova Scotia. It's a bit of a long call at this point, but the track and intensity models suggest Earl might still be a category 2 hurricane and cross the Nova Scotia south shore. All of this depends entirely on the forecast development of a trough coming out of the US east coast.

Other things happening. Invest 97L, located in the mid-Tropical Atlantic is currently moving westward and is becoming better organized. All the conditions are there to suggest this will become a tropical depression by later today. The NHC is giving this system a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. (If that happens it will be named Fiona)

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