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Brett Anderson

Hurricane Earl a Major Concern for the Maritimes

9/01/2010, 9:16:27 AM

Residents from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island need to pay close attention to the eventual track of Hurricane Earl.

Latest visible satellite image of Hurricane Earl just north-northwest of Puerto Rico from Tuesday:


I have been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Earl since I got back from Disney World late Sunday, and the hurricane is still fairly well behaved in terms of short-term track and intensity predictions.

A large Bermuda high will strengthen to the northeast and east of Earl over the next few days, steering Earl on a more northwest followed by north then northeast track. An approaching cold front from the Great Lakes will also play a key role in the eventual track.

General computer model and forecast consensus (which has been consistent) takes the center of Hurricane Earl anywhere from 100 to 400 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., sometime Friday or Friday night then either right over or not too far east of Nova Scotia and PEI on Saturday as at least a Category 1 hurricane.

Even though Danielle rapidly weakened north of 40 degrees latitude, its track was much farther east compared to where Earl will go and Danielle quickly encountered much cooler water. For Earl, the water temperatures in its projected track north of 40 degrees latitude are at least a degree celsius above normal, which combined with the acceleration of the hurricane will lead to a much slower weakening trend compared to Danielle, so I agree that this should be at least a Category 1 hurricane and perhaps a minimal Category 2 as it approaches southern Nova Scotia on Saturday.

As I noted, computer model guidance has been relatively consistent with the projected track over the past couple of days, but I noticed that they have slowed the arrival into Nova Scotia a bit, so we are now focused on Saturday as the main storm day.

As is usual, this will be a quick hitter as the storm accelerates past 40 degrees north, so we are talking about a 6- to 8-hour duration storm at most.

Where Will Earl Go?

It is still early in the game, and until it makes the northward turn, we will have a much clearer picture of its track north of 40 degrees. Based on what I have been looking at, I expect the center of the hurricane to pass within 250 km of Nova Scotia and perhaps even directly over the central part of the province and across PEI. We will narrow this down of course over the next couple of days.

If I live in Nova Scotia or PEI, what should I do now?

If it were me, I would wait one more day and just follow our latest track projections. There is still enough time to react. If the projected track and intensity still looks the same by late Wednesday, then I would start to make preparations for Category 1 hurricane conditions (74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h winds) if you live anywhere in Nova Scotia and PEI.

The strongest winds with this hurricane will be east and southeast of where the center passes, while the west side will get the heavier rain and tropical storm-force winds.

Southeastern New Brunswick could even get impacted, but that region would likely be on the western edge of the hurricane with more of a quick rainstorm and non-damaging wind.

The hurricane will quickly lose tropical characteristics as it moves out of Nova Scotia, but folks up in southern and western Newfoundland could still be in for a strong wind/rainstorm late Saturday with moderate to high end tropical storm-force winds.

Here are some of the latest computer model projected tracks for Earl. The latest European and GFS models still project a direct hit on Nova Scotia on Saturday.


The NHC models paint a much brighter picture but are outliers to the consensus.



Scary scenario by the European model with center approaching Yarmouth, NS on Saturday



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