Outer Banks could feel effects of Hurricane Earl

Posted August 30, 2010

— Hurricane Earl lashed the northeastern Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds Monday, causing flooding in low-lying parts of the Leeward Islands as it gained strength on a course that could threaten the North Carolina coast later this week.

As of 3 p.m., the Category 3 storm, which formed Sunday, had sustained winds of 125 mph and was likely to keep growing as it moved northwest.

It could possibly become a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of at least 131 mph, by the middle or later part of the week, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The latest track has part of the storm's forecast fan crossing the Outer Banks on Thursday, when the storm is expected to weaken slightly to a Category 3.

"It's been trending a little farther to the west as we watch each run come through," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "At this point, if it doesn't trend any farther to the west, we're looking at the potential for rip current danger, heavy surf beach erosion and possible overwash on the Outer Banks."

The Cape Hatteras area has a 40 percent chance of seeing tropical storm-strength winds at or above 39 mph.

Further south, beaches in Brunswick and New Hanover counties won't feel as much of an impact, but there is a 20 percent chance of tropical storm-strength winds in the area.

The storm is likely to continue toward the northeast late Thursday or early Friday.

"The one bright side to all of this is that it's probably not going to have a major impact on the Labor Day weekend," Gardner said. "Whatever damage it does could put a damper on it, but in terms of the storm being there for the weekend, it's going to move on out of here in time for folks heading to the beach."

Meanwhile Monday, hurricane warnings were in effect for the Carribbean, including Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Antigua, powerful wind and rain destroyed at least one home and at least eight people had to be evacuated, though there were no reports of critical injuries. Emergency response officials said about 350 people were in shelters. Local weather authorities reported at least 5 inches of rain and 10-foot waves.

In St. Maarten, the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity to much of the island but there were no reports of serious damage. Heavy gusts of wind swirled debris across streets that were empty due to a government-imposed curfew.

Alisha Daya, a 24-year-old tourist from Milwaukee, said she wore earplugs Sunday night but still had trouble sleeping because of the noise from the wind and crashing waves at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort in St. Maarten.

“It was loud because we were right on the ocean,” said Daya, who said the storm will keep her and her parents and boyfriend from leaving the island as planned on Monday although the worst seemed to have passed. “Some furniture is flying around, but everything seems to be OK.”

Cruise lines diverted ships to other ports in the Caribbean and Mexico as a customary precaution for tropical weather. Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport closed, and regional airlines suspended flights.

Earl has grown rapidly in strength, fueled by warm ocean temperatures of 86 degrees.

Meanwhile, the Category 1 Hurricane Danielle was weakening far out over the north Atlantic.

And further out in the mid-Atlantic, showers and thunderstorms were gradually becoming better organized in association with a low pressure system located about 1,050 miles east of the lesser Antilles.

A tropical depression could form and within the next 24-48 hours could become Fiona, the sixth named storm for the Atlantic hurricane season.


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  • stwatson Aug 30, 2010

    holycow...haha...yea I've found out that my name is a no no around here...oh well. But exactly! Raising that much water a few feet alone is another HUGE expense of energy! Good thing we have these storms to release this energy and not keep it bottled up something bad to happen.

  • holycow - lover of Pi Aug 30, 2010

    st watson (sorry, the golo autochecker wouldn't let me put the word together b/c it thought I was saying a naughty word)... Indeed, the power from a 'cane is mind-blowing. The part that really gets me, is how the change in air pressure actually lifts the surface of the sea a few feet times many hundreds of square miles to form the storm surge. That, and seeing how a sustained 50mph wind can empty the Pamlico Sound as far as the eye can see.

    Truly amazing!

  • holycow - lover of Pi Aug 30, 2010

    ooohhhh how I'd fill your tub *truth...

    Oh, wait - the word is Potable, not pottyble?

  • stwatson Aug 30, 2010

    If you want some REALLY mind blowing math on how much energy is released during a hurricane...simply assume the amount of water that is converted from vapor to liquid over the surface area of a hurricane. Assuming only 7 inches of rain falls, you crunch a few numbers and you'll see that the amount of energy released during a hurricanes pass is greater than that of a nuclear weapon. SERIOUSLY! Thats just the conversion of WATER between different states of matter! This does NOT play into effect the amount of energy required for the wind OR the storm surge! Its truly an amazing act of God.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 30, 2010

    "Here we go again with a false alert"

    Oh no, it's going to be a good one! Right everybody!!! How many storms predicted this year? And it's been changed how many times now? Was changed how many times last year? How many storms have hit in the last decade?
    This ain't new Orleans people, you can handle it I promise. Go to Food Lion and prepare. Fill your tubs and put everything on the top floor. You'll be alright. Scout's honor.

  • stwatson Aug 30, 2010

    Minus the potential loss of life and property ( one wants or wishes that upon anyone) does make for a good Hurricane Party!

    Again...I dont wish any damage to people or property...but there DO exist people in this world who like to watch just how powerful nature really is.

  • holycow - lover of Pi Aug 30, 2010

    Another nugget for consideration:

    The current sustained winds are clocked at 125mph, with higher gusts.

    Very few readers here own cars that can drive as fast as Earl's current blow. Those who *do* own such cars, would not be able to sustain such speed for hours on end (let alone days) without the car's components blowing apart (tires, belts, valves, etc).

    So, if you can imagine what kind of force your house would experience from a car hitting it once at 125mph, expand this to a surface area as great as your wall facing the wind and multiply the force times the hours of wind (and myriad airborne objects) constantly pushing the home.

    And 125mph is "only" a Cat 3 storm!

  • Adelinthe Aug 30, 2010

    I hope we get some rain for this in central NC too.

    These long hot dry days are killing almost everything and are trying everything else.

    God bless.


  • injameswetrust2003 Aug 30, 2010

    With all due respect, if we can't forecast rain, should we be counted on to forecast hurricanes? I think I'll just watch the radar.

  • cyclonearmageddon Aug 30, 2010

    "Alisha Daya, a 24-year-old tourist from Milwaukee, said she wore earplugs Sunday night but still had trouble sleeping because of the noise from the wind and crashing waves at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort in St. Maarten."

    Most ridiculous quote about a hurricane ever.