It's been a long time since I last posted here, I believe it was back in September of 2008 but I've decided to come back after a long hiatus.
To sum up the last two years, I've been doing just fine, my life has pulled back together and I've been getting in contact with more and more meteorologists. I'm currently working under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Landsea at the National Hurricane Center on a three-year project related to Atlantic tropical cyclone forecasting.
Well, now the interesting part, my experience chasing Hurricane Earl in Massachusetts.
Two days ago, my dad and I decided to go storm chasing in Massachusetts and rendezvous with Hurricane Earl. We took a five hour drive all the way to Chatham, on the east coast of Cape Cod and waited the arrival of Earl. When we got there, the waves along the coast were about 3-5 feet (the area we were at was sheltered by barrier islands) and winds were between 15 and 20 miles per hour.
Not many people appeared to be taking the storm seriously, considering the area was in a state of emergency, and probably around 100 of residents (and some tourists I believe) were watching the waves along the beach where we were. Three TV crews also chose this spot, two local NBC channels and Fox 25.
After waiting until dark set in, we finally managed to get a parking spot right next to the TV vans, along a hillside at the beach. By about 10:00, the storm really started to set in. Heavy rains pelted everyone who was outside and began puddling in the streets. According to a storm chaser who brought an anemometer, winds were sustained at 40 miles per hour, just at tropical storm force.
After hearing that, my dad and I went down to the beach to experience as much of Earl as we could. Due to the lack of friction, winds were likely a bit stronger down by the water. As we made our way there, we were pelted by tons of sand kicked up by the heavy rain. The only thing it can be compared to is being bitten by dozens of fire ants, especially during the gusts.
Once we were drenched through and through, we returned to the car for about an hour before taking our final Earl experience around 11:20. At that time, the brunt of the then tropical storm had set in. I was unable to hear what the storm chaser had recorded the wind speeds at but they were definitely above 45 miles per hour. Again we went to the beach to be blasted by what I estimated to be 60 mile per hour wind gusts and a lot of sand before finally making the journey home.
As we left during the brunt of Earl, torrential rains left visibility very low and flooded streets. We hit two spots where the water was likely more than a foot deep; the second of these spots had to be about two feet deep and we only just made it through. Another car wasn't so lucky as we saw the two occupants pushing the car out of the flooded road into a nearby parking lot.
For about the next hour and a half, we hit several flooded roads, most covered with up to six inches of water. Once we got out of the state, things quickly improved as we made our way back home.
Overall, Earl was quite a good first-time experience for a tropical cyclone. It didn't cause enough damage to keep us from getting home but brought enough to feel the full-force of a tropical storm. I don't think I'll be forgetting Earl so soon.