HURRICANE EARL, Tropical Storms FIONA, and Gaston 9/2/2010 5:00 am

Colleagues, FORECAST: Forecasts remain essentially unchanged. HURRICANE EARL is now a dangerous major category 4 Hurricane with winds of 145 mph, located straight East of Jacksonville about 400 miles Miami, but 700 miles to the east . Movement is NNW at 18 mph. The forecast for HURRICANE EARL remains the same a turn to the east which will bring it north very close to Cape Hatteras and North Carolina early Friday. The east coast of North Carolina will experience hurricane force winds, heavy rain, rip tides, storm surge of up to 10 feet. The whole east coast north of Georgia, to Newfoundland will experience rain, squally weather, high surf, rip tides, but make no mistake, eastern North Carolina will get the worst of it. Closest approach to Florida, 400 miles so we will get somewhat higher surf and some rip tides, but not the full effect by far. If you are cautious in the water, or say out toward the end of the week, you should be ok. It is quite possible for EARL to nick the coast of NC, Cape Cod, and Newfoundland. It will remain a powerful storm all the way up the coast only slowly weakening. I think the east coast of NC will receive hurricane force winds and appropriate evacuations are in order. Cape Cod will feel the effects of at least a strong strom, with Tropical Storm force winds, late this weekend.

Tropical Storm FIONA has winds of 50 mph, located 400 miles north of the Puerto Rico Islands, moving NW at 17 mph, but beginning to move more northerly. FIONA will likely end up going close to Bermuda as Tropical Storm. It will trail behind and to the east of EARL. NO threat to the US.

Tropical Storm GASTON is still 1000 east of the Leeward Island. But, it is on a more southerly track, which if it continues could lead to a landfall in the Gulf in 2 or 3 weeks. That is a long forecast to make. I will look more closely at this weekend after Earl is past most of the US.

Off the coast of Africa, another storm begins to brew, keeping us a bit ahead of the climatology for number of storms by about a week.

DISCUSSION: It looks like the eye of EARL will just miss land. It will be a close call, and perhaps a distinction without meaning. The east coast of North Carolina will be hit by hurricane force winds, and all up the East coast should anticipate strong Tropical Storm force winds. Right now, it looks the trough will barely arrive just in time to keep it off shore, but we are talking about a difference of hours, not days. What the Front (trough) has going for it is that it is a strong one, with much cooler temperatures behind it. So it can have more than usual effect ahead of it, which can in some way compensate for lack of speed. HURRICANE EARL will weaken after North Carolina as it encounters cooler seas, more shear and dryer air as it begins its transition to an extra-tropical system. All bad news for a hurricane but it will remain a force to be reckoned with all the way up the east coast.

There are about 3 systems remaining to come off Africa. We will probably slip down into to closer to an average rather than an active season, unless something changes in the next month.

NEXT FORECAST: Thursday evening by request from those living up the east coast.

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Peter S. Ray

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