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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Tue, 08/31/2010 - 9:29am.
I'm not sure if it's a term or not, but nonetheless I'm deeming Earl the first "Heartburn Hurricane" of 2010. The storm will continue to gather just north of the Caribbean Islands and begin its track north later on today. The track is still a bit too close for comfort in our area -- hence the "heartburn".
Tuesday morning, the storm is tracking to the north of Puerto Rico. This has given us a unique opportunity over the past day to view the storm on radar already. You can see from this morning that the system has a clearly defined eye and rain band structure, which we would expect from a storm this size. Wind gusts on Puerto Rico have primarily been within Tropical Storm criteria, with the highest gusts seen on the British Virgin Islands around 110 mph.
From here, the turn is still expected to be more northerly as the storm rounds the sub-tropical ridge. Even though this makes meteorological sense, and all the models have this turn in the forecast, you can't help but hold your breath until you see the system actually make the curve. One area of concern is that the upper trough in the Midwest has slowed somewhat, which may leave more of the turning up to the ridge rather than the joint effort expected earlier in the week. As we've said, it's going to be a very close call.
As you can see, the models are still sticking to their guns. All keeping the system around 200 miles off the coast of Cape Fear. That being said, here's what I'm looking at with the storm. Right now, Hurricane Earl is about 800 miles from north to south. He's about 500 miles from west to east, with about 200 miles of convection and wind on either side. Should this track hold true, it would make sense that we stand to see at least a few rain bands cycle through the area Thursday afternoon into Friday morning. These could contain heavy thunderstorms and gusty winds, perhaps as high as tropical storm force at times.
One interesting part to the forecast that has caught my attention this morning is the abnormal amount of dry air over the southwest Atlantic on the Water Vapor imagery. This is the same air that came through this weekend and knocked our humidity down. Dewpoints on buoys underneath this air mass are in the 68-70 range, which is quite low for this area. That being said, water temperatures are exceptionally warm as well in the mid 80s. If anything, the dry air may not weaken the storm - but it may help to prevent further strengthening.
This is a very dangerous storm. At this point, I'd advise everyone to review your hurricane plan, and make sure you have all the supplies necessary to make it through a storm. This isn't to say that Earl is going to hit us -- but given the little room for error in this track, and with several weeks of peak activity ahead, it's best to be prepared.
We'll keep you covered here at WWAY right through the passage of Earl. Our Hurricanes 101 page is updated up-to-the-minute as the latest information comes in, and be sure to check out our Tropical Video Update for an in depth look at the forecast.
That's all for now. Make sure to keep checking back for the latest on the storm.
By: Tim Buckley