In the last 15 years (since Edouard) I can’t remember a tropical system that has threatened New England that has been forecasted so well and consistently by our computer models from 5 days out. There have been some hiccups by models generally viewed as poor and inconsistent (NAM, NOGAPS, HWRF) but the tried and true models (Euro, NHC consensus models, for instance) were phenomenal.
With that in mind and a new round of model guidance that appears locked in with the current track I feel pretty confident in saying this storm will stay southeast of Nantucket. This will keep the heavy rain (>2″) and strong winds out of Connecticut. It’s possible that tropical storm force winds clip New London County if the hurricane tracks further west than I’m expecting. In general this storm will be no worse than a ho-hum nor’easter for us. Some rain, some wind, no snow, and it’s gone in time for a great beach weekend.
In fact for all the tropical storm warnings the state has been under since the mid 90s (Bertha, Floyd, Beryl, etc) virtually none have verified and produced actual tropical storm conditions (though Floyd produced serious river flooding). I don’t think this storm will be an exception.
One reason for that is it seems that this storm wants to hang on to its strength and tropical characteristics longer than most storms do this far north. Generally as storms transition from tropical to extratropical the wind field weakens and expands. What I’m looking at now indicates that Earl will retain a relatively tight core of damaging winds which is common of storms in lower latitudes (Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, etc). This is bad news for Cape Cod but good news for nutmeggers.
Here’s the current computer model guidance from the hurricane center. It is a bit further east than the NHC track (not over but southeast of Nantucket) and the bias-weighted consensus models agree. I think by 5 p.m. the hurricane center will shift the track a hair east but will leave the tropical storm warning up for Long Island Sound for consistency-sake.
In addition the hurricane seems to be having trouble moving much west of 75W longitude. This will put it a hair east of the NHC track initially and likely a bit east of Cape Hatteras.
There may be wobbles or adjustments in the models but now that we’re within 36 hours of impact the odds of a significant jump (especially west) are quite low.
Over Cape Cod, especially east of Hyannis and south of Truro, wind gusts over 80 mph are possible. Nantucket will be hit VERY hard by this storm and likely will experience their worst hurricane in some time (worse than Bob?). I think Nantucket could see wind gusts to or over 100 mph. This storm will likely rival the damaging December 2005 snow-bomb that crushed southeastern Massachusetts though no snow is expected this time! Boston and points south will likely pick up very heavy rain of at least 2″-4″ from Earl as he passes by.
The most likely scenario for New Haven and Hartford is less than an inch of rain (though a slight jog west would mean much more rain) and wind gusts of less than 35 mph. Groton could see gustier winds maybe to 50 mph but they will be from the north resulting in abnormally LOW tides.