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Hurricane Earl just a dress rehearsal for storms to come ...

Everybody exhale --- Earl has come and gone without much fanfare; good news for us! It was a nerve-wrecking storm for us forecasters, not necessarily because of the uncertainty, but just because it all depended on a last-minute turn.

Without that turn, the results would have been much different for us here. As I headed in to work Thursday morning around 2AM - Hurricane Earl was still a monster Category 4 and gaining strength. Not only that, but the storm was just east of Florida - headed to the northwest, with no signs of turning.

Now, as it turns out he did make that curve to the north just when we thought he would mid-morning Thursday. The trough to the west interacted nicely with the sub-tropical ridge to the east, to shift the massive storm's track. If it hadn't turned, we could have had another Fran or Floyd on our hands here in Southeastern North Carolina. We'll count that as one near-miss for us so far this year; hopefully our trend holds.

The heat behind the storm though will certainly be a back-breaker today. We're going with upper 90's here in town today as Earl exits; the typical hot and sunny weather we usually see after a hurricane. But why does that happen?

There's a couple reasons. One, hurricanes are massive air masses of rising motion in the atmosphere. Once these systems exit, the rising motion stops and generally you have a good deal of sinking air. Thinking back to science class you may remeber that rising air cools, and sinking air warms - that's exactly the case in the weather.

Not only do we have a good deal of sinking air leading to the heating of the atmosphere, but the winds behind Earl with also be coming out of the west in a stiff fashion. North Carolina's elevation increases away from the coast, so when you get a west wind like this one - the air needs to travel 'down' to the coast - adding more sinking motion to the air. This all in the end leads to a hot day - but we think it will be a dry one, as dewpoints are still low.

But it won't last long! Look at the cold front coming in from the west; it's a monster! This is dropping highs in the Northeast by as much as 30 degrees in spots. For us, it will mean a Labor Day weekend filled with highs in the 80's and lows in the 60's - the perfect reward for a week filled of hurricane heartburn. Sounds good to me!

As for myself, I'm headed out of town on a pilgrimage of sorts to watch Penn State kick off its football season in Happy Valley. Weather-wise, it's going to be a shock! The cold front knocks them down from the 90's where they were this week, to a kickoff temperature in the 60's Saturday in State College. Sounds like football weather to me.

Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend. Make sure to watch out for those rip currents today and tomorrow should you head to the coast.

That's all for now.

-TB

By: Tim Buckley