Matthew Parallels Florida’s East Coast; Eyewall Lashes the Space Coast

Hurricane Matthew made its closest pass to Cape Canaveral at 6 AM Friday morning. While the center stayed 25 miles offshore the outer eyewall lashed Brevard and Volusia counties with hurricane force winds for several hours. A few miles made all of the difference with Matthew, and as of 8 am Friday morning, the center has stayed offshore. This was in line with the latest National Hurricane Center forecast and the 18Z, 0Z, and 06Z computer models. Heavy rain and damaging winds will lift northward into northeast Florida late Friday. Matthew went through an eye wall replacement cycle overnight and it continues early Friday. As of 8 AM Matthew is a category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. Major hurricane Matthew moves NNW at 14 mph and pressure has risen to 944 mb.


As of 8 AM here are peak wind gusts in east central Florida. Multiple wind gusts of 100 mph+ were recorded at the top of the Cape Canaveral tower. Keep in mind this is 50 feet above the ground. Hurricane force winds were felt in Vero Beach, Playalinda Beach and Satellite Beach with inland counties experienced tropical storm wind gusts.


Wave heights batter east Florida Friday morning. Seas build up to near 20 feet north of Cape Canaveral and up to 33 feet offshore. Beach erosion will be significant. Storm surge is a major threat for northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.  A dangerous storm surge of 7-11 feet is possible during high tide in this region.


As of 5 AM Matthew will pass incredibly close to northeast Florida Friday afternoon and evening, but at this point, the center looks to stay just offshore. Landfall or not, the major hurricane will still bring hurricane force wind gusts to some as hurricane force winds extend out 60 miles from the center of Matthew. It will be a close call for landfall in southeast Georgia and South Carolina, but most models keep Matthew just offshore. With that being said, heavy rain and strong winds are still likely along the immediate coast. Matthew will gradually weaken in the days ahead as wind shear increases. A loop back towards the Bahamas and southeast Florida is still a good possibility early next week. Fortunately, Matthew will be much weaker at this point due to wind shear and upwelling from its track near Florida and the Bahamas. The official forecast brings Matthew near the Bahamas as a minimal tropical storm early Wednesday morning.


Matthew Moving into the Bahamas, Headed for Florida

As of 5pm, Matthew had sustained winds of 120mph, with a minimum central of 963mb. The storm was located 400 miles SE of West Palm Beach, and about 205 miles SSE of Nassau, Bahamas. The motion was to the NW at 12mph.matthew-png-2

The forecast cone has continued its gradual westward shift. The new track now lines up right on the Atlantic coast of Florida, and a landfall anywhere from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville is possible. All areas along the east coast of Florida should prepare for the worst case scenario as many models show Matthew as a major hurricane while along the coast.


After its brush with Florida, Matthew will take a turn to the northeast and weaken some. However, the potential still exists for another landfall in coastal Georgia or South Carolina still as a hurricane. Residents in this area should also prepare accordingly. After this northeastward turn, the models have shifted the track of Matthew farther south than previously, thus removing the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast from the cone of uncertainty. Some models have even shown Matthew completing a loop and drifting back toward Florida early next week (albeit much weaker). The official forecast from the NHC now shows that loop as a distinct possibility.matthew

Tropical storm watches have now been extended westward along the Gulf Coast of Florida, with Watches upgraded to Warnings along the spine of the Peninsula. Preparations should be underway or completed for a major hurricane along the immediate east coast. For the west coast, impacts will be significantly less, though tropical storm force wind gusts will still be possible for some time Friday.






Matthew Begins Restrengthening While Headed Toward Bahamas

After hitting Haiti and Cuba Tuesday and Tuesday night, Matthew has re-emerged over warm water in a low shear environment. Its satellite presentation has shown signs of improvement Wednesday morning. In addition, NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunters flying through the storm have noted an increase in wind speed. Thus, the 11am advisory has maximum sustained winds at 120mph. The minimum central pressure is 962mb and the storm was moving to the NW at 12mph.matthew

As the storm continues through the Bahamas, it is likely to restrengthen a bit further in the low shear/warm SST environment. In addition, Matthew turned to the NW early Wednesday morning as it begins to round the perimeter of the Bermuda high. It will now likely continue on this northwesterly track through Friday. The official forecast track takes Matthew through the Bahamas as a dangerous category 4 hurricane, and then parallels the Florida east coastline late Thursday and Friday. By Saturday, the forecast gets a bit more murky. Models Tuesday night and Wednesday have begun to hint at a loop in the long term track of Matthew. Instead of an impact to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the storm would stay south of the Outer Banks and turn southeastward early next week as high pressure builds in from the north. While not all models have jumped on this, it looks increasingly likely that the Carolinas would be spared a direct hit. Nonetheless, they are still well within the cone of uncertainty and should stay alert.


As previously mentioned, the models are not all in agreement with Matthew’s forecast. Not only are there a couple models that remain well offshore of Florida, but there are several that do not make the aforementioned ‘loop’ in the extended term.


The next area to see the impacts from Major Hurricane Matthew will be the Bahamas. The track of Matthew takes it directly over many of the islands during the next 24-36 hours, including the capital city of Nassau. This would bring the worst winds through some of the more heavily populated islands, as well as a potentially devastating storm surge and very heavy rain. The storm surge could be 10′-15′ in spots, with 8″-12″ of rainfall likely and isolated amounts of 15″! While the center may not move over every island, the wind field is rather large. Hurricane force winds extend outward 45 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend 175 miles from the center.


After impacts with the Bahamas, Matthew will track uncomfortably close to the east coast of Florida Thursday night and Friday. The 11am Advisory continues a gradual westward nudge in the track, with the center-line now well within 50 miles of the coastline. The concern for hurricane conditions on Friday along the immediate coast has certainly grown. The track is close enough to the coast that only a slight shift west or east will have a significant effect on impacts.


With the forecasted track this close to the coast, all kinds of watches and warnings have been issued. Tropical Storm Warnings are up for the Upper Keys through Miami-Dade County, and northward along the spine of the Peninsula. Meanwhile, Hurricane Warnings have been issued for Broward County north through Volusia, with Hurricane Watches just north of that through Jacksonville.


Winds will significantly vary along Florida’s east coast on Friday depending on just how close the center of the storm comes to a direct landfall. As of now, even with a storm just offshore, many of the coastal cities from the Treasure Coast through the Space Coast are in the path of hurricane wind gusts. A snapshot of wind gust speeds Friday morning shows the potential for hurricane force gusts. The model depicted below is from the GFS. While the strongest winds would be within a few miles of the coast, tropical storm force winds will cover a much larger area. Inland counties along the spine of the Peninsula have the potential to see tropical storm force winds for some time on Friday. Gusts 30-40mph could even be possible all the way back to the west coast.


Another potential impact from Matthew will be the rainfall. While the heaviest rains may very well line up just offshore, coastal areas of Florida could easily see 4″-7″ with isolated amounts of 10″+. That heavy rain may extend northward along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina into Saturday. The image below from NOAA shows rainfall from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning.


In addition to the rainfall and wind potentials, another impact from Matthew will be the storm surge and wave heights. The map below shows wave heights offshore easily above 18′ Friday morning. If the high tide lines up with Matthews maximum storm surge, the water could reach 3′-5′ above ground from North Palm Beach to the Flagler/Volusia County line. However, if the storm moves a bit farther west and makes landfall somewhere in Florida, these water heights will likely increase significantly.




Dangerous Hurricane Matthew Heads for the Bahamas by Wednesday; Challenging Forecast for Florida and the Southeast U.S. Late Week

It’s been a catastrophic Tuesday in Haiti and Tuesday night does not look good for southeast Cuba. A second landfall is likely in southeast Cuba Tuesday evening. Blinding rain, huge waves, storm surge, and persistent damaging winds will continue in the Great Antilles Tuesday night. Matthew’s next target is the central and southeast Bahamas where major hurricane conditions are likely Wednesday and Wednesday night. As of 5 PM Matthew is still a dangerous category 4 hurricane but has weakened some. Max sustained winds are at 140 mph and pressure has risen to 949 mb. Matthew moves northward at 9 mph.


There are changes to the 5 PM Advisory and the Southeast U.S. needs be on alert. The track is nudged a bit further west towards Florida’s east coast. Residents of east Florida need to follow the forecast closely and heed warning if evacuations are issued. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has issued evacuations for more than 1 million coastal residents. This starts Wednesday at 3 PM. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect in Florida for the Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys up to south of Golden Beach. A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Golden Beach northward to the Broward/Volusia county line. While the cone of error includes more Florida counties the track timing is a bit slower. This is in line with the slower European model. This puts major hurricane Matthew near Daytona Beach Friday afternoon. It all depends on if the center stays offshore of the Sunshine State or moves onshore. A wobble west or right will make a huge difference in significant rain and wind impacts. This track will become more clearer Wednesday.


Beyond Friday Matthew eyes the coastal Carolinas. It may be a bit weaker by then, especially if it moves over parts of Florida. Water temperatures are also not as warm in that region and wind shear will be a bit higher too. The 5 PM Advisory puts category 2 Hurricane Matthew near the North and South Carolina border Saturday afternoon. As is the case in Florida a slight shift west near the coast will increase impacts significantly. By Sunday, moisture from Matthew moves into parts of the Northeast. The official forecast is in line with Tuesday afternoon computer models. Both have shifted further east.


Here’s a look at the suite of Tuesday afternoon computer models. All residents from Florida to the Carolinas need to follow the forecast closely for changes in the days ahead.


The GFS model has been consistent with the center of likely major Hurricane Matthew just offshore of southeast Florida late Thursday and east central Florida early Friday. This still puts the east coast in the path of squalls, steady tropical storm force winds and rough surf. The European models has flipped flopped a bit more and is still slower to exit the vicinity of Florida Thursday and Friday. In the latest 12Z run the Euro model bring dangerous hurricane Matthew onshore near Brevard county Friday morning. It then takes the hurricane up the entire east coast of the state. This is just one model run but if the trend continues this is the worst case scenario for the east coast. The NHC takes the Euro’s forecast into account. This is why the 5 PM track is further west and slower.


Residents of Tampa Bay are on the west, favored side of Hurricane Matthew. Even if Matthew moves onshore on the east coast the worst part of the dangerous hurricane will be felt further east. On the current 5 PM forecast the European models suggests wind gusts at times near low end tropical storm force inland. On the east coast wind gusts are much great and approach hurricane force at 9 AM Saturday. This forecast will likely change some area wide.


With a more west track compared to the GFS the Euro shows a wetter solution in central Florida. The model suggest 5″+ on Florida’s east coast and only a little over 1″ near Tampa Bay on the west coast. Some squalls may be heavy at times inland. Stay tuned. Hopefully by late Wednesday we will have more clarity on Florida and U.S. impacts.



Category 4 Hurricane Matthew Slams Haiti; Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches Issued for Florida

We expected the worst and unfortunately that’s what happened in Haiti. Matthew slammed the poverty stricken country early Tuesday. The center officially made landfall on the southwest tip of the country near Les Anglais at 7:00 AM EDT with 145 mph winds. Matthew is the first category 4 hurricane to strike Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. While there are high mountains in western Haiti elevation won’t do a whole lot to disrupt the dangerous growing hurricane before it moves on to east Cuba Tuesday night. Hurricane force winds now extend out 60 miles from its center as of 11 AM. As of 11 AM Matthew is still a category 4 hurricane with 145 mph. Pressure is up to 950 mb. It is moving north at a 10 mph. Catastrophic flooding, deadly mudslides, huge waves, storm surge and damaging winds will continue throughout the day. Parts of southern Haiti and the southwest Dominican Republic may see 40 inches+ of rainfall by mid-week. Fortunately Jamaica was spared from the worst of the storm but parts of eastern Jamaica could still see 4-6 inches of rainfall. Isolated areas will pick up higher amounts.


Impressive wave heights will continue through early Wednesday in the Greater Antilles. Waves build up to 20 feet+ Tuesday morning. Combine rough surf with high tide and coastal flooding is guaranteed. The southern coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz will see a storm surge of 7 to 11 feet and the south coast of Haiti will see a storm surge of 7 to 10 feet. Matthew will only weaken slightly over the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday and major hurricane conditions are likely. Parts of the Bahamas are likely to see 8-12″+ of rain and an impressive storm surge of 10-15 feet.


As expected as of 11 AM Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches are extended westward into east Florida later this week. As of 11 AM Tuesday a Hurricane Watch is in effect for Deerfield Beach north up to the Volusia/Brevard county line. A Tropical Storm Watch is issued from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys up to Deerfield Beach. More watches will likely be issued late Tuesday.


Here is the 11 AM official track from the NHC. Pay attention to the entire cone of error and not just the center line. A major hurricane will parallel Florida’s east coast Thursday and Friday. Then a slightly weaker Hurricane Matthew skirts southeast Georgia late Friday. A direct landfall is possible in the Myrtle Beach, SC/Wilmington NC viewing area early Saturday. As wind shear increases a category 1 hurricane approaches the Northeast coast Sunday morning.



After a significant westward shift in computer models late Monday model consistency continues early Tuesday. Models are on board with a strong Bermuda high nudging Matthew uncomfortably close to the Florida and the east coast. The east coast of Florida and the U.S. will likely see impacts from Hurricane Matthew, the question remains how significant. Even a slight wobble west could be the difference in hurricane force winds and intense squalls or just a coastal threat with high surf and coastal erosion. Below are the 12Z computers through Sunday evening. The entire east coast is at risk with the greatest impacts possible in the Carolinas.


Here is a zoomed in view. Models parallel Florida’s east coast Thursday and Friday and eye the Carolinas late Friday through early Sunday. It will be a close call for a direct hit in the Southeast. By late in the weekend Matthew will transition to an extra-tropical system over cooler waters and eventually land. Some states in the Northeast welcome steady rain as they are in a drought.


The exact track near the U.S. is still unknown. If Matthew holds it’s own after moving over the central Bahamas there is a chance the wind field may expand. This could mean a larger portion of east and central Florida could experience at least tropical storm conditions. There is pretty good agreement with the 06Z GFS and 0Z Euro. Both show a major hurricane just offshore of east-central Florida Friday morning. This setup favors tropical storm conditions for some and wrap around squalls, especially along the east coast.


With Matthew 48 hours away from making impacts in Florida the probability of tropical storm force winds (>39 mph) increases. On the immediate east coast there is 70% chance of tropical storm force winds. This is down a 20% chance for Pinellas county southward. Parts of the interior Tampa Bay viewing have up to a 60% chance of tropical storm force winds in eastern Polk and Highlands county. At this point it still looks primarily like a gusty wind event in Tampa Bay with a few squalls especially inland. The worst of the storm will impact the east coast but the brunt of the storm could stay just offshore.


Large waves and coastal erosion are likely in spots in the coastal Southeast in the days ahead. The rainfall forecast is greatly subject to change depending on Matthew’s path. The Weather Prediction Center shows the heaviest rainfall just offshore of Florida. Some areas near the coast could pick up 5-7″+ by the weekend. A heavy rain event is more likely in the Carolinas with 12″+ near Myrtle Beach by Tuesday morning. Now is the time to make sure your hurricane plan is up to date. The forecast for Matthew will be come clearer over the next few days and so will its impacts to the U.S..



Dangerous Hurricane Matthew Heads For the Greater Antilles; Cone of Error Shifts West in the Southeast U.S.

Unfortunately the forecast has not changed for Haiti, southeast Cuba and eastern Jamaica.  Matthew closes in on the Greater Antilles late Monday. Catastrophic flooding, life-threatening mudslides, huge waves, impressive storm surge and very strong winds are all likely late Monday and Tuesday. The worst of the storm will be felt in southwest Haiti. This is the right front quadrant of the major hurricane. Hurricane Matthew maintains intensity as a powerful category 4 hurricane Monday afternoon and it is headed for the islands. As of 5 PM max sustained winds sit at 140 mph with pressure down to 940 mb. Matthew slowly lifts northward at 7 mph. Hurricane hunters were out there around the clock Monday. The NOAA Gulfstream also assessed the environment near the Bahamas to help models get a better grip on the long-range forecast.


There are no big changes in the official 5 PM advisory through Wednesday morning.  Beyond Wednesday there are significant changes. The center of Matthew will skirt both southwest Haiti and southeast Cuba. This won’t disrupt the highly organized hurricane much. Matthew will still likely be a major hurricane when it arrives in the southeast Bahamas early Wednesday. By late week there is a noticeable west trend in computer models and the 5 PM cone of error. This could mean more impacts for the coastal U.S.. Afternoon computer models picked up on a stronger Bermuda high and stronger high pressure ridging in from the north late week. This is why more models have shifted west towards Florida and especially the Carolinas later this week. The cone of error now includes east Florida, southeast Georgia, almost all of South Carolina and much of North Carolina. Interest in Tampa Bay should note the area is still on the preferred west side of Matthew. While it will be gusty at times Thursday and Friday the wettest weather and strongest wind will stay on Florida’s east coast, or possible offshore. Due to wind shear and eventually cooler waters Matthew will be a slightly weaker hurricane by the weekend. Even if it stays offshore gusty winds are still likely near the coast with huge waves and beach erosion.



This will help put the westward shift into perspective. The first graphic below is the suite of Monday afternoon  models. The second graphic is the suite of Sunday night computer models. It’s quite obvious that more models bring Hurricane Matthew closer to Florida, the Carolinas and the Eastern Seaboard. Keep a close eye on the forecast this week and make sure your hurricane plan/kit is up to date just in case. Models may continue to flip-flop early this week but if the westward trend continues more U.S. impacts are expected.



The European and GFS model both shifted west Monday. The GFS has Matthew exiting the Bahamas a little quicker. Below is the forecast for 7 AM Friday. Both models bring Matthew very close to Florida’s east coast. Obviously if Matthew passes closer to Florida stronger winds and squalls would be expected.


Looking ahead to the weekend both the GFS and European model bring Hurricane Matthew very close to the Carolina coastline. The GFS shows Matthew onshore near Myrtle Beach SC and Wilmington NC Saturday afternoon. The European model is a little slower and little further offshore. The GFS shows a track over the Outer Banks late Saturday. The European shows a close call with coastal North Carolina too. Beyond Saturday the GFS and European diverge event more. The GFS has an extra-tropical Matthew over Canada by Monday and the European model is east of New England. This is an important week to stay tuned and stay up to date on the forecast. A lot can change in the days ahead.




Matthew Inches Towards the Greater Antilles; Heavy Rain, Impressive Storm Surge, and Strong Winds Likely

Once again powerful Hurricane Matthew strengthens in the Caribbean. Hurricane hunters discover the slow moving major hurricane has stronger winds and lower pressure. As of 11 AM Monday max sustained winds are at 140 mph. This keeps Matthew as a strong category 4 hurricane. Pressure is at 941 mph and it slowly moves north at 5 mph.  That slow northward speed is not good news for southeast Cuba, Haiti and eastern Jamaica. Widespread flooding, life-threatening mudslides and storm surge are an enormous threat for the Greater Antilles. In fact, outer moisture from the massive hurricane already skirts Hispaniola.


There are no big surprises in the 11 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center. After lashing the Greater Antilles Matthew shifts a bit more west-northwest over the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday. This shift is around the perimeter of the Atlantic ridge. Matthew will likely still be a major hurricane during this time.  Beyond Thursday the upper level pattern is even more complex. Models keep the strong hurricane east of Florida but squalls could still affect the east coast. It’s all about the timing in an approaching trough by the weekend. At the same time high pressure builds in over New England and may guide dangerous Matthew closer to the U.S.  The cone of error is shifted a bit further west Friday and Saturday. The 11 AM advisory includes a sliver of Georgia, much of central and coastal South Carolina and southeast North Carolina in the cone through Saturday morning.


Here’s a zoomed in view of 12Z Monday morning computer models regarding possible U.S. impacts. Notice while Matthew is predicted to stay east of Florida (according to deterministic models) it is a closer call for North Carolina and the Northeast. Several models bring it uncomfortable close to the Outer Banks Saturday. The model spread is even greater over the weekend and early next week.  Even if Matthew passes east of the U.S., which will hopefully be the case, there will still be coastal impacts. Rough surf and several high tide cycles could lead to coastal flooding. Not to mention beach erosion is also a problem, especially if Matthew does not speed up.


Of greatest concern early this week are impacts in the Caribbean .This is the worst case scenario for the Greater Antilles: a major hurricane slowly approaching from the south. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was the last major hurricane to greatly affect this region. It made landfall in southeast Jamaica and mountainous east Cuba. Haiti also saw catastrophic damage. The rainfall outlook from Matthew is not good.  Flash flooding is expected and mudslides are likely near higher terrain. This is the forecast below from the GFS model. The 06Z model brings upwards of 16 inches of rainfall to southwest Haiti. Sadly, some areas in southern Haiti and in the southwestern Dominican Republic may see 15-25 inches of rainfall, with isolated areas picking up over 40 inches. That’s over 3 and half feet of rain. Eastern Cuba and northwestern Haiti could see 8-12 inches of rain, with isolated areas picking up 20 inches. While the brunt of the storm will pass east of Jamaica the eastern part of the island could see 5-10 inches of rain with isolated higher amounts. Beyond the Caribbean Matthew is poised to pass over the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the central Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The Southeast Bahamas may pick up 8-12 inches of rain, with isolated higher amounts mid to late week.


Due to the slow forward speed several high tide cycles will bring tremendous storm surge to the Greater Antilles, especially near and east of the center. Waves already build in the region. Below is the Wave Watch III model wave height forecast early Tuesday morning. The red color near southwest Haiti shows waves of 18″+.  A storm surge of 7-11 feet is possible from the southern coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz. The south coast of Haiti could  see a 7-10 foot surge. By the time Matthew enters the Bahamas mid-week a storm surge of 10-15 feet is possible.


We also need to point out that while Matthew is an impressive category 4 hurricane winds near hurricane strength only extend out 35 miles from its center. The strongest winds are in the northeast quadrant of Matthew. The wind speed forecast in line with the 11 AM NHC advisory shows hurricane force winds over the southwest tip of Haiti Tuesday at 5 AM. Tropical storm force winds extend 185 miles from the center of Matthew. That wind field is much larger and will be felt for a longer period of time in southeast Cuba and Haiti.


With less interaction with mountainous terrain the dangerous center of Matthew may not get disrupted and major hurricane force winds will likely stay intact. After slamming southwest Haiti the 11 AM advisory puts winds just as strong over southeast Cuba Tuesday afternoon. This could spell trouble for the Bahamas down the road. They are gearing up for major hurricane conditions mid-week.


Major Hurricane Matthew is Headed for Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti Early Week; U.S. Impacts Still Uncertain

Dangerous Hurricane Matthew has maintained intensity as a category 4 hurricane for the past 24 hours. Enhanced satellite imagery shows  a separate area of convection west and east of the storm which is a bit unusual. The major hurricane itself is well organized, while the eye is less distinct late Sunday morning.  As of 8 AM Sunday hurricane hunters find pressure has risen lightly it 947 mb. Max sustained winds hold steady at 150 mph as Matthew slowly moves northwest at 5 mph. After slowly making a loop Saturday Matthew will likely continue its northwest track Sunday. A northerly track is expected by overnight Sunday into Monday towards Jamaica and especially southeast Cuba and Haiti.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for parts of these islands. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey, the Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. It’s important to note that hurricane force winds only extend out 25 miles from its center. The core of major hurricane force winds will only affect a small area. It may even pass directly between Cuba and Haiti. Catastrophic flash flooding, life-threatening mudslides, rough surf and storm surge will be the greatest impacts from Matthew in the Caribbean. Southern Haiti may pick up 15-25 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts up to 40 inches by Wednesday. Eastern Jamaica, east Cuba, and the Dominican Republic may pick  10-20+ inches of rain. A storm surge of 7-11 feet is possible in south Cuba east of Cabo Cruz.


Here is the 8 AM info from the National Hurricane Center and the 5 AM track. Major hurricane Matthew will weaken some before passing close to Cuba, Jamaica, and especially Haiti late Monday into Tuesday. A northern track becomes more northwesterly mid-week. Major hurricane Matthew will likely thrive over the record warm waters near the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday. Officially a sliver of southeast Florida is included in the cone of error.


As of Sunday morning all computer models keep Matthew east of Florida with the exception of one of the BAMS models a few European ensemble models. While we can’t rule out Florida impacts (rough surf, gusty winds, a few squalls) it’s looking more likely that the brunt of the storm will pass east of the Sunshine State. Unfortunately the forecast is less clear-cut for the Carolinas late week/next weekend and the northeast late next weekend. More 12Z computer models have shifted west closer to the Carolinas. The upper level steering pattern is quite complex and there are a variety of paths Matthew may take. While the most likely path is out sea it will be a close call for the Eastern Seaboard.


The European and GFS model are better in line in the short-term. The European model is closer to west Haiti Tuesday morning and the GFS is closer to southeast Cuba. Both forecasts are pretty close. After exiting the Caribbean it is on to the Bahamas for Matthew. The GFS is quicker to exit the Bahamas and closer to Florida. On Thursday at 2 PM the European model is still over the Bahamas and a bit further east.


Beyond Thursday the models differ greatly. The GFS passes over the Outer Banks of North Carolina and literally rides the east coast through Saturday. While European model also shows a passage uncomfortably close to North Carolina the timing is much slower. Notice the difference between the GFS over Canada and the European model near North Carolina on Sunday at 8 AM.


It’s important to note if Matthew makes landfall in the U.S. it could be as a major hurricane. Many Sunday morning intensity models keep Matthew as category 3 hurricane+ in 5-7 days. Please stay weather aware as we find tune the long-range track in the days ahead.


Hurricane Matthew Now a Category 4; Hurricane Watches are in effect for Jamaica and Haiti

Despite wind shear Hurricane Matthew strengthened from a category 2 hurricane to a dangerous category 5 hurricane Friday in the warm Caribbean. It exceeded computer model expectations and  became the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Felix in 2007. It is impossible for a tropical cyclone to maintain that kind of strength for too long. As of 11 AM Saturday hurricane hunters discover Matthew is now a weaker, but still powerful category 4 hurricane with max sustained winds of 145 mph. Pressure is at 947 mb. Matthew moves west at 6 mph and is less than 400 miles from Kingston, Jamaica. Matthew no longer has a well-defined eye. Structurally it is elongated in appearance due to moderate westerly shear. Hurricane force winds extend out 30 miles from the center while tropical storm force winds extend out 205 miles. Matthew will likely fluctuate in strength in the coming days as it goes through eye wall replacement cycles and battles wind shear. All eyes are on Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola through Tuesday where major hurricane conditions are possible. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Jamaica and Haiti from the southern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas


We’re waiting on when Matthew makes its northward this weekend (likely late Saturday or Sunday). It’s all about the timing in the break in the Atlantic ridge and a trough over the Southeast U.S. The quicker it lifts north. the further east it may pass of Jamaica and closer to Haiti. If the center passes directly over mountainous east Cuba the  hurricane will be disrupted temporarily and weaken before it emerges near the Bahamas late Tuesday and Wednesday. The forecast confidence is low for mid-week/late week next week. Due to a complicated upper level setup anywhere from an East coast landfall to a trip out sea is on the table. The official forecast at 11 AM calls for a northerly turn late Saturday into Sunday. The cone of error has shifted a bit further east of Jamaica early Monday followed by a track over southeast Cuba Tuesday. One change this advisory is to a strengthening major hurricane by Thursday morning over the Bahamas. Southeast Florida is still in the “cone of error.” While most reliable computer models keep Matthew east of Florida the margin of error 5 days out is 230 miles. Therefore, Florida impacts cannot be ruled out.



Unfortunately the battle between the GFS and European continue and both models show different timing and strength down the road. The GFS has slowed down a little. The 06Z GFS puts major hurricane Matthew closer to east Jamaica Monday followed by a trip over mountainous east Cuba Tuesday. This is in line with the official NHC 11 AM update. After some weakening Matthew recharges over warm waters near the Bahamas. This model shows an uncomfortably close track to the U.S. mid-late week. The 06Z model (in line with a previous run) brings Matthew very close to southeast Florida early Thursday, riding the coastal Carolinas, Friday and Saturday, the Mid-Atlantic Sunday and Northeast next Monday.


Meanwhile the European model suggests Matthew makes its northward turn a bit quicker with a passage close to Haiti early Monday. This puts Matthew just east of Cuba early Tuesday and lingering near the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday. Low pressure currently east of the Lesser Antilles may throw in another curve ball. If this feature deepens mid to late work week Matthew may trend further east Tuesday. The European model places Hurricane Matthew safely east of Florida and the U.S. Friday morning. The European model is on the far right side of the “cone of error”. It has been inconsistent on the timing and strength of the storm.


Hurricane Matthew intensifying in Caribbean

Despite the moderate to strong wind shear, Hurricane Matthew continued to strengthen overnight. Winds were bumped up to 100mph, and it may be a bit stronger than that. Computer models continue to insist on the north turn, but where it turns to the north is huge in the eventual forecast path for the storm. Here is the latest track, and much more will be written on this blog about Matthew later today.matthewmatthew2