If it wasn't bad enough to have to live in Norfolk in regular quiet times, this week we face the possibility of having hurricane Earl sweep through or at least "brush by" in the artful language of the weather people. Brushing by is not exactly optimal since it can entail a whole lot of destruction. There is a 3% chance of hurricane force winds hitting Norfolk according to the compulsively readable Weather Underground weather blog. Small but not the preferable 0%. The fact that margin of error is large enough to include a direct hit to the Outer Banks by a category 3 to 4 storm is not reassuring, though my optimistic side (yes I have one, albeit begrudgingly) is that they just say that in case a catastrophe happens, CYA.

And this is a sobering thing to read about what could happen in the NE:

"The NOGAPS model brings Earl closest to the coast of New England, predicting the west eyewall of the the hurricane will pass over Nantucket at about 2am Saturday morning, and the tip of Cape Cod a few hours later. If this track verifies, 40+ mph winds would affect southeastern Massachusetts for a period of 6 - 12 hours beginning at about 8pm EDT Friday night. Earl should be a weaker Category 1 or 2 hurricane then, with hurricane-force winds extending 30 miles to the left of its track. Hurricane conditions would then affect the eastern tip of Long Island, coastal Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts. Earl's radius of tropical storm-force winds to the north, over land, will probably be about 150 miles, so locations from Central Long Island to southern Boston would experience sustained winds of 40 mph in this worst-case model scenario. A storm surge of 3 - 5 feet might occur in Long Island Sound, and 2 - 3 feet along the south coast of Long Island. A deviation to the left, with a direct hit on eastern Long Island and Providence, Rhode Island, would probably be a $10 billion disaster, as the hurricane would hit a heavily populated area and drive a drive a 5 - 10 foot storm surge up Buzzards Bay and Narragansett Bay. The odds of this occurring are around 5%, according to the latest NHC wind probability forecast. The forecast is calling for a 25% chance of hurricane-force winds on Nantucket, 8% in Providence, 6% in Boston, and 18% in Hyannis. Keep in mind that the average error in position for a 3-day NHC forecast is 185 miles, which is about how far offshore Earl is predicted to be from New England early Saturday morning."

This is a pretty cool picture of Earl form space. Although it doesn't convince me that manned space travel is not a waste of money:


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