Hurricane Earl heading for North Carolina coast
As Earl reaches Cape Hatteras, the models start to diverge slightly as the forecast track opens up. Based on the computer models, the projected path of Earl has been forecast (see graphic below courtesy of The Weather Channel).
Depending on which specific portion of the projected path - the zone of uncertainty - that the eye of the hurricane follows will determine the potential extent of damage that Earl can cause. If Earl follows the eastern side of the forecast track, then the result will be gusty winds and rain. However, if Earl tracks along the western edge of the cone then the damage to the North Carolina coast could be quite severe.
A small change in the steering currents can have a major effect on the path that this hurricane takes.
UPDATE 6-Hurricane Earl could sideswipe U.S. East Coast(Reuters)
MIAMI, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Powerful Hurricane Earl churned toward the eastern U.S. seaboard on Tuesday and looked to sideswipe the densely populated coast from North Carolina to New England, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.In preparation, a hurricane watch has been issued for must if the North Carolina coast. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for all visitors to Oracoke Island - about 5,000 people.
Forecasters expected the main core of the Category 4 hurricane to stay offshore as Earl moved parallel to the coast during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer.
A hurricane watch was issued for most of the North Carolina coastline as officials warned any westward deviation from the forecast track could prompt coastal evacuations or even bring the storm ashore.
"A small error of 100 miles (160 km) in the wrong direction could be a huge impact difference," National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read told a conference call with journalists.
"Even a minor shift back to the west could bring impacts to portions of the coastline from the mid-Atlantic northwards."
Evacuation ordered for N.C. island ahead of Earl(MSNBC)
RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina officials ordered tourists and residents to leave a barrier island accessible only by ferries as powerful Hurricane Earl headed toward the U.S. coast on Tuesday.
Hyde County emergency management officials plan a Wednesday morning evacuation of Ocracoke Island. The decision came late Tuesday, as the hurricane whipped north of the Caribbean with winds of up to 135 mph.
Authorities said the evacuation order would affect about 5,000 visitors to the island.
The fewer than 800 year-round residents are also being asked to leave but aren't required to follow the order.