Earl, and hurricane halftime report

At the Shore, so far it's been a rather prosaic, broody early September day, with a mild breeze here and there and a fitful shower, nothing to suggest that Earl was once a few puffs away from being a Category 5 hurricane.

And unless something goes terribly wrong, it appears that Earl is going to be a non-event in New Jersey. The worst of it is expected this afternoon, with gusts perhaps to 50 m.p.h. and minor flooding at high tide.

But  this is going to be a drive-by situation, and Cape May County already has announced it will lift the emergency declaration at 4 p.m. 

The National Hurricane Center track has been consistent in taking Earl off the coast and turning it toward the northeast, and Earl is complying.

The last adventure will be whether it manages to make landfall at Cape Code or Nova Scotia, not that it's going to make much difference to Atlantic City, Avalon or Cape May, where the rest of the weekend is going to be fabulous.

As for the future, despite all those waves bounding off Africa, no new scares are on the horizon. Fiona was upstaged by Earl, and Gaston has lost its named tag.

The Atlantic Basin is active, and that shouldn't be a surprise, as Frank D. Marks, director of the government's Hurricane Research Division points out.

Climatologically, the hurricane season is reaching its peak period, and in terms of activity, it is just about half over.

Recall that all the long-range forecasters said this would be an active season with well-above normal numbers of storms, and those forecasts still have a chance to verify.

But the East Coast has caught a few breaks. First, to almost everyone's surprise, the season was slow to get going. It is trying to make up for lost time, but with seven named storms so far, it will have a hard time reaching the upper ranges of those long-term outlooks.

Secondly, even as the season has got its mojo going, the upper-air steering winds have been kind to the coast.

Earl gave North Carolina quite a scare and some nasty weather, but riding the western flank of the high pressure ridge over the North Atlantic, Earl spared the Outer Banks from a direct hit.

And the upper-level flow should make New Jersey safe for property owners and weekender.