Hurricane Matthew: A Concerning, Heightened Threat For East Florida, Southeast Coast.
Hurricane Matthew already has a very lengthy resume and track record as it barrels into the Bahamas, having torn through parts of Haiti and Cuba. Matthew continues to remain a high-end Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph sustained winds. Now that is entering the Bahamas, there is increased water real-estate, water that is very warm will serve as jet fuel for Matthew. Already once a Category 5 storm, Matthew could easily strength back into a Category 4 and could very well impact the east coast of Florida as a Category 4 storm as well.
Here is a look at the latest NHC Advisory as of 5 PM.
Looking at this track, they say “never say never”, and that is something always to keep in mind, especially in meteorology. Does that apply to Matthew’s track concerning the Northeast Coast? Yes. While the threat is significantly less, something tells me not to wave the “all clear flag” just yet, but I would say we’re getting much closer to being able to do so.
What is most concern is the track Matthew is likely to take concerning Florida. Usually a landfall forecast, while it naturally takes time to determine, it can be done and is done often. With Matthew, it will be exponentially more difficult as Matthew is looking like it will slide up much of the length of Florida’s East Coast as a potential Category 4 storm, making it harder to point out one concrete location for landfall, since it will be gliding the coastline or remain just slightly offshore as it tracks up the Southeast US coastline.
Based on what model guidance was showing last night, it seems as though the NHC has adjusted their forecast cone of uncertainty, accordingly. Last night’s runs of the GFS (American) model and ECMWF (European) model had illustrated Matthew sliding up the East Coast of Florida curving out, looping and coming back up to hit Florida for a second time. Insane, right? Well, according to analogs (historical storms with similar location, environmental conditions to Matthew), there have been a number of storms to do this. Such a track is not out of question, unfortunately.
TIMING: As we head into Thursday, Matthew will continue tracking its way through the Bahamas. By early Friday morning, it should be nearing the East Florida coastline. By Saturday, Mathew should be just off the coast of South Carolina and by Sunday/Monday, Matthew should be beginning its recurve back into the Atlantic. Where it goes from there is still a mystery… whether it does a loop around and come back towards Florida or just continue out to sea remains in questions. I do suspect, though, that Nicole could have some effects on Matthew’s track as it meanders off the Southeast US coast. Keep in mind, that with such an intricate forecast, adjustments in the overall forecast may be and will likely be needed, to some degree.
IMPACTS: It doesn’t take a meteorologist to have to say that impacts along Florida’s east coast, and even points inland, will be significant, devastating and life-threatening with a Category 3/4 system in the forecast, that’s just common sense with such a high-impact storm as Matthew is. A major concern I have is how, while Matthew is expected to restrengthen as it heads from the Bahamas to the east coast of Florida, how much time/real-estate will have to restrengthen. Either way, we can expect hurricane force winds, significant surge, significant and widespread flooding, blinding rains, extreme beach inundation possible and more than likely from a storm the caliber of Matthew. If Matthew continues on its projected course and with its strength (or strengthens back into a Category 4 storm which is likely), expect devastating conditions with threats to life and property. This is a storm you want to take with the utmost seriousness as impacts are very likely to become grave.
With the forecast track taking up Matthew up along the east coast of Florida, wave heights just offshore could get in the range of 30-40+ ft, depending on the strength and location of Matthew, relative to the east Florida coastline.
BOTTOM LINE: Preparations should be underway in advance of Matthew across the Southeast US, especially Florida. Statewide evacuations have been ordered for several states in preparation for Matthew. Unless something changes to drastically alter the forecast, or strength of Matthew, this storm will be a very serious threat to the east Florida coast and areas inland, and for coastal Southeast regions through potions of the coastal Carolinas. There is no need to panic, just think with a clear, concise mindset, make needed preparations and you will be fine.