It’s true. A hurricane is coming and I’ve been unusually quiet. I’ll chalk it up to a very busy summer. I thought I would take some time and sift through all of the crazy news/rumours out there to give you a better idea of what to expect this weekend when Earl visits.
Hurricane Earl is, at this time, a category 2 hurricane. It is expected that Earl will continue to weaken as it approaches Atlantic Canada. When it reaches PEI it will most likely be a tropical storm. Please keep in mind that there is only a 1mph difference in wind speed between a strong tropical storm and a category 1 hurricane.
There are a few variables that are giving the forecast a bit of uncertainty aside from the usual fact that hurricanes are, by their nature, hard to predict.
- High water temperature. The waters surrounding Atlantic Canada are warmer than usual. In fact they are much warmer than usual (2 to 4 degrees C). Hurricanes/storms feed off of warm water temperatures and these warmer waters could keep Earl alive longer than normally would happen.
- Hot, hot, weather. The weather in Atlantic Canada for the past few days is much like the weather Earl is used to down near the equator. This hot and humid air mass will, for lack of a better analogy, make him feel more at home.
How bad will it be? What can I expect for weather?
As Earl begins to dissipate its winds will begin to expand out from the centre. Think of it like a figure skater in a tight spin who extends their arms to slow themselves down. As the wind speeds diminish they will stretch further out from the eye of the storm. By the time Earl reaches Atlantic Canada the winds will reach much further afield than they currently are down in North Carolina. This means that the public’s current fascination with the exact track of the hurricane is a bit foolish. However, the track is good for determining what part of the storm will affect you the most.
If you live to the east of the storm’s track (Queens & Kings county PEI, Most of Nova Scotia) you will experience higher winds and less rain. If you live towards the west of the track you can expect less dramatic winds and quite a bit more rain.
How much wind and how much rain?
Make no mistake: It’s going to blow and it’s going to pour. It’s just a question of speed and amounts. To be classified as a tropical storm the 1 minute average wind speed needs to be between 39 and 73mph (~60-110km/h). My guess is that if you’re just east of the storm track you’ll see winds in the higher part of that range. I would also guess that we might see wind gusts over 110km/h in western parts of Nova Scotia and Queens County PEI.
It won’t rain as much as it did last week, but it might rain harder at times causing some flash flooding. Moncton will probably see the most rain.
There will be localized power outages. With this much foliage and the predicted winds it’s almost guaranteed that some power lines are going to be affected. The maple leaf fungus may have helped a little by getting rid of some leaves. There will also be some localized flooding where the worst rains occur (west of the track – e.g. Moncton). Due to the tides storm surges will not be as high as in previous storms. Southern Nova Scotia will get a pounding from the waves and it's possible the Northumberland Straight will also see some surge. This is not expected to be major.
Don’t eat all of the meat in your freezer just yet. It’s not going to be end-times type weather.
I would (and am):
- Take in all outside furniture/stuff that can blow away
- Check to make sure the sump pumps in my basement are in good working order
- Tie things down that can’t be taken in but could take off in the wind
- Grab a few days worth of food (don’t forget this is a long weekend)
- Have some extra batteries for your flashlight
- Have a battery powered radio on hand
- Fill up the car/truck up with gas
- Charge your camera batteries to document the awesomness
Of course I could be completely wrong and this could be the worst thing ever or just a light breeze.