At 8 am EDT on Thursday October 6th, Hurricane Matthew was a category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. Matthew is moving across the Bahamas at a northwest motion near 12 mph. The storm is expected to remain on a northwest to north-northwest this trajectory through Friday morning. On this path Matthew will approach the east coast of Florida by this evening.
Matthew Track and Strength
The National Hurricane Center is expecting Matthew to continue to strengthen and become a category 4 storm as it approaches the east coast of Florida. Currently hurricane-force winds expand and 40 mile radius from the eye, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.
The current track from the National Hurricane Center (as noted in the graphic below) is for Matthew to approach Southeastern Florida this evening and move north along the Florida coast tonight and into Friday. by Saturday morning, Matthew is expected to be off the South Carolina coast.
For later this weekend and into early next week, there is uncertainty in the track, as models have shifted significantly in their solutions over the past few days and there are several scenarios as shown in the different track solutions below.
At this time, Matthew is expected to quickly curve east and southeast off the South Carolina on Sunday.
With the forecast track for the next few days, Matthew expected to move very close to the coast. However whether or not the storm actually makes landfall in Florida is still uncertain. Several of the hurricane models show that a landfall is possible, while other keep the center of the storm just off the coast.
Even if Matthew does not make landfall, heavy rainfall, destructive winds, serious coastal flooding and high surf will impact the Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts. The graphic below shows the potential for tropical storm force winds spreading across Florida, Georgia and into South Carolina as the storm moves north. Areas in the mustard yellow to reds and purples show a 50% or greater chance of experiencing at least sustained tropical storm force winds.
Storm Surge and Coastal Flooding
In addition to the winds, storm surge and coastal flooding will cause serious problems as Matthew moves along the coast. The first graphic shows the risk of storm surge in Florida with areas of yellows and oranges showing the potential of water levels being 3 to 6 ft. higher than normal. Note this graphic provides a “worst case what if scenario” for storm surge which is the 1 out of 10 chance of occurrence and not all location will experience these significant water level differences. In addition, a key component to storm surge is the path as well as the coincidence of the tidal cycle, which can vary greatly over short distances. Thus the higher storm surges occur when the surge coincides with the high tides and can be localized in impact.
Farther north into Georgia and South Carolina, inlet areas are especially at risk to see higher water levels given the northeast to southwest orientation of the Georgia and South Carolina coastline.
Heavy rainfall with Matthew will also lead to coastal and inland flooding. The rainfall forecasts for coastal areas from south Florida north to North Carolina range between 2 and 10+ inches. Given the significant rainfall gradient along the coast, a small shift in the track could lead to much higher or lower rainfall totals.
People in the potential path of Matthew are encouraged to perform preparation activities now. So bring indoors toys, outdoor furniture, grills and other item that may easily take flight. Find a safe, sturdy place for shelter to ride out the storm. If you have been instructed to evacuate, follow the guidance of your local officials. Make sure you have extra food, water medicines and other supplies in case you are not able to leave your shelter for some time…and do not forget about extra rations for your pets. Have copies of important documents including insurance policies (home, car, boat, etc.) and consider making photo copies of credit cards, driver licenses, passports, etc. Finally remain weather aware for the latest forecast information and have ways to receive updated information from local emergency management officials.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.