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Top 5 Q's about Earl

Earl's forecast storm track
Earl's forecast storm track

Lisa Varano, staff writer

September 3, 2010 — Hurricane Earl is heading for Atlantic Canada. Chris Scott, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, answers the top five questions about this storm.

Rough seas in the Caribbean
Rough seas in the Caribbean

1. How strong will Earl be when it moves into Canadian waters?

Right now, it looks like Earl will still be a hurricane when it gets to Canadian waters and passes by, or possibly hits, Nova Scotia. Earl is currently a category 1 storm and could stay that way as it approaches Atlantic Canada.

“This is still going to be a formidable storm moving towards Atlantic Canada for the start of the weekend,” Scott says.

2. What will Earl's biggest threat be?

The Canadian Hurricane Centre is urging people in Atlantic Canada to prepare for a storm arriving late Friday night through Saturday. Earl's exact impact is unclear at this point.

But you should take precautions anyway. “Even if the storm does just give us a glancing blow, we have to be ready for the worst-case scenario,” Scott says.

3. Does Earl have any similarities to last year's Hurricane Bill?

Last summer's hurricane Bill was moving right towards Nova Scotia until it made a last-hour bend away from the shoreline. It had an impact, but did not cause a lot of damage.

“That could be the case with hurricane Earl, but it's going to be a very close call -- a nail-biter of a storm right up to the time it makes its closest approach, likely on Saturday,“ says Scott. Damaging winds and storm surge are possible threats.

Palm trees swaying in the Dominican Republic
Palm trees swaying in the Dominican Republic

4. How does Earl compare to Hurricane Juan of 2003?

“Juan was a direct hit, flush coast to coast, from the south. While it is not out of the question for Earl to be a direct hit, the angle of attack from the southwest makes it more difficult to get Category 1 or 2 winds over a large swath of land,” says Scott.

This storm would have a hard time rivaling Juan in Halifax. But it could still directly hit another part of Nova Scotia.

5. How will Earl affect the U.S. eastern seaboard?

Earl's impact depends on its storm track. On Earl's current track, it will get close to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and it will likely get close to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Then three scenarios are possible. The likeliest scenario is that the centre of the storm will pass just south of the shore of Nova Scotia. But it could brush the shore or even come inland.

“If it comes inland, we're in for some trouble, because that's where we get the strongest winds,” says Scott. The strongest winds of a hurricane are always on right side of the storm. So if Earl stays offshore, it will bring some winds, but not overly damaging ones, and some rain. But if Earl comes inland, there would be heavy rain and damaging winds and storm surge.

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