Hurricane Earl is nearing its last stages as a tropical system, but strong swells are a threat to Florida’s East Coast.
As of 11 am Saturday, the National Hurricane Center places the center of Earl about 260 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland in Canada with sustained winds of 90 mph, down from 105 mph earlier Saturday. The system is moving north-northeast at a speedy 29 mph and is expected to become an extratropical low by Saturday afternoon.
While there are no tropical warnings in place, the system is expected to bring strong winds over parts of Newfoundland through Sunday.
“A significant reduction in forward speed is expected today, with Earl moving slowly northeastward to the southeast of Newfoundland tonight through Monday,” said NHC Senior Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg. “Weakening is expected during the next few days, and Earl’s winds are likely to fall below hurricane force tonight or early Sunday.”
The wind field for the system is growing, now with hurricane-force winds up to 90 miles from its center and tropical-storm-force winds extending out to 415 miles.
The swells for the massive system have already hit Bermuda and will continue to pound portions of the US East Coast including Florida over the next several days, the NHC said.
“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” Berg said. The National Weather Service continues to warn against high-risk of rip currents.
On Thursday, Volusia County Beach Safety stated in a press release that they responded to an incident near Main Street Pier in Daytona Beach where a male in his 60s had been caught in a rip current. He was pulled from the water without a pulse, but rescue personnel performed CPR and he was transported to the hospital after regaining a pulse. Two more rescues were performed Friday.
As Earl moves away, the NHC has its eye on one other system set to form off the coast of Africa in the tropical Atlantic after the weekend
As of the NHC’s 2 pm tropical outlook, forecasters expect a tropical wave to move off the coast of the continent on Monday.
“Gradual development of the wave will be possible during the early to middle part of next week while it moves westward or west-northwestward across the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean,” the NHC stated.
Forecasters give it a 30% chance of tropical formation in the next five days.
After more than two months of relatively quiet tropical activity, this past week saw the formation of the season’s first two hurricanes with Hurricane Danielle also having fizzled out during the week. The NHC also had its eye on several systems in the tropical Atlantic that ended up not forming.
The increased activity comes with the statistical peak of hurricane season — Sept. 10 — during what was originally forecast to be an above-average tropical year. The Atlantic hurricane season had just come off of two record-churning years with 30 named storms in 2020 followed by 21 in 2021.
Before Hurricane Danielle, though, the season had only produced three named tropical storms with Tropical Storm Colin’s last advisory coming on July 3. What’s known as the Saharan Dust Layer helped quash tropical activity for most of the summer including the first time August saw zero tropical systems since 1997. The system that grew into Hurricane Danielle formed on Sept. 1.
The hurricane season runs from June 1-Nov. 30.