Hurricane Earl is unquestionably a monster as heslides north of Puerto Rico. Achieving Category 4 status...and strengthening rapidly toward Category 5 status...this beast of a storm brings hundreds of miles of tropical storm and hurricane force winds around its center. As the storm pulls parallel to the Eastern Seaboard, then hooks northeast, there is uncertainty in exactly when the storm takes this northeast turn, known as "recurvature." An earlier turn means Earl misses New England considerably, while a later turn would bring a more fearsome package of wind, waves and rain.
I want to get a few highlights out in the open first:
- We at NECNexpect Hurricane Earl to pass very close to New England's benchmark of 40N and 70W.
- If this track verifies, tropical storm force winds and hurricane gusts will be possible in Southeastern New England, particularly the Cape and Islands
- We areencouraging New England residents take easy, cheap, quick preparatory measures at this point. Once uncertainty decreases, more advice will follow.
- This is not a slam-dunk forecast. The typical delicate interactions that govern New England hurricane forecasts are at work again.
With those four major points laid out, let's review what we know...
- The time of greatest impact of Earl on New England will be later Friday through Friday night: The storm will accelerate north, then northeast, after passing the Outer Banks of NC and this should ensure the storm has departed most of New England by Saturday morning. While a slight slowing is possible, it should not be significant enough to jeopardize this timing forecast.
- Waves will increase at the South Coast of New England Thursday, well ahead of Earl. Those waves will bring a return of severe rip currents, and that danger will persist into the weekend.
- Mariners...especially the fishing community...should be back in port by Thursday evening, as seas will continue building on Friday, and wherever the exact track of Earl ends up, ocean conditions will deteriorate quickly on Friday. Getting in trouble on Friday may result in a suspended search operation by Friday night as conditions worsen
- A landfall is extremely unlikely directly on the New England coastline. Though not completely impossible, what seems far more likely is a close pass southeast of Nantucket and Cape Cod.
For the time-being, there are some easy preparations we can make - frankly, these are things any hurricane-prone area should do before the season begins, but many of us wait until absolutely necessary.
Suggested Early Preparations for the New England Community - steps that are cheap, quick, easy, and you won't regret, even if the storm goes out to sea...but won't have time for if a hit is imminent:
- Most important, stay tuned to the forecast. We'll update you regularly on NECN with the latest forecast track, and our latest thoughts.
- Boat owners: Have necessary gear for properly securing the vessel. Fenders and lines will be needed in marinas where you cannot remove your boat in time for the storm, should it hit.
- Boat owners: Be sure the marina operator is aware whether you'll want your boat secured or pulled out of the water.
- Boat owners: Have pictures and a written description of the vessel for insurance purposes.
- Vulnerable coastal residents: Have conversation with family and friends, should evacuation be needed. This is especially true for vulnerable, low-lying communities on Cape Cod.
- If you live in a flood-prone area, have pictures, serial numbers, and descriptions of items in your house for insurance purposes. Take your copy of the policy with you.
- All residents: Many folks keep plywood on-hand to protect windows. If you want it, do you have it? Though a direct hit is not imminent at this time, local stores will sell out if the forecast changes.
Danielle will be on with the morning update, and I'll look forward to seeing you with live updates on NECN every evening.