Washington: Pushed by an ill-timed trough of low pressure, Hurricane Earl is heading uncomfortably close to an area relatively few hurricanes tend to go: the Northeast coastline.
And Earl may be foreshadowing more northerly big storms to come with global warming, two hurricane experts said Thursday.
Hurricanes have smacked the Northeast before — a fast moving whopper in 1938, Carol and Diane in the 1950s and Bob in 1991. But National Hurricane Center records show they are generally once-in-a-generation events. In parts of the Northeast, hurricanes occur as infrequently as once every 35 years.
A Northeast hurricane that makes land "was one of my greatest concerns," former National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield said Thursday. "It`s a rare event for them and people are not used to responding to the hurricane threat."
In South Florida, New Orleans and the Outer Banks where hurricanes are regular events, people know to plan in advance and then follow those plans, Mayfield said. But in places not used to hurricanes, it is more chaotic, leading to horrendous and dangerous traffic jams during 1991`s Bob, he said.
Earl is very unlikely to bring a repeat of that. It is not predicted to directly hit a city in the Northeast, but skirt close enough along the coast to be more a scare and an irritant than a major killer. Still, Earl is different from most storms that venture north of Florida.