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Meteorologist tracks Earl's activity

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Earl
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Earl

Chris Scott, meteorologist

September 1, 2010 — Earl is still a major hurricane. After being downgraded to a category 3 storm, it re-strengthened to category 4 on Wednesday afternoon. Atlantic Canada will start to feel its impact on Friday.

Earl track forecast
Earl track forecast

The overnight computer modelling has actually started to tighten up on Earl’s track through Atlantic Canada. And the timing is becoming much more certain.

The primary impact looks to begin Friday night in southwest Nova Scotia – Cape Sable Island and Shelburne will be the first to experience heavy rain and increasing wind. Conditions should deteriorate quickly right up the shore of Nova Scotia (and inland) with the worst of the storm likely Saturday morning through the afternoon across the Maritimes. Conditions will rapidly improve Saturday night.

Newfoundland will see the worst of Earl’s impact late Saturday and Saturday night. Keep in mind, there will be large swells in advance of Earl so there is a danger of large waves near the shore before the storm begins.

This is one of the greatest dangers with Nova Scotia storms--people swept to their deaths because they were too close to the sea trying to watch the waves. Peggy’s Cove is a wonderful place, but it’s an extremely dangerous place to be in these circumstances.

The calm before the storm in Nova Scotia
The calm before the storm in Nova Scotia

Now the track. The computer modelling is starting to converge on a track solution similar to what we’ve been talking about the last few days, a track very close to the south shore of Nova Scotia with the centre of the storm potentially crossing onto land.

Echoing the Canadian Hurricane Centre’s message, it is too early to give a precise track and impacts, so it is prudent that everyone from St. Stephen to St. John’s be ready for this.

However, I do think the most likely track at this point is one that is right along the Nova Scotia shore, and this means it will be an extremely difficult forecast. My personal hunch is that the centre of the storm may stay just south of Cape Sable Island and then move over land close to Guysborough county or Cape Breton.

This scenario would give strong winds all along the shore (although the strongest winds would be just off shore), with potentially the strongest winds in Cape Breton. Please keep in mind this is not an official forecast, and just my opinion, but I wanted to give you what I think is the most likely scenario at this point.

Weather forecasts do change, and I want to again back up what the Canadian Hurricane Centre is saying. There is still a significant range in the possible track which has huge implications for all of Atlantic Canada, not just Nova Scotia.

I would say the biggest ‘swing’ areas in terms of range of potential impact are locations in Shelburne and Queens counties in southwest Nova Scotia. A direct hit here would cause signifcant damage, where as a track only 50-100 km farther south would result in relatively little damage from wind or storm surge.

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