I’m the author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, published by National Geographic Books, and the IPPY Award-winning For Sale-American Paradise: How Americans Were Sold An Impossible Dream In Florida. I’ve also been writing about hurricanes for National Geographic News since 2003.
I’ve been blogging about Hurricane Matthew’s rampage through the Caribbean and up the southeast coast of the US since last week. During the next few days, I’ll be doing a wrap-up of Matthew. Today I’ve posted some comments from three respected commentators on hurricanes–meteorologist Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; meteorologist Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University, and blogger Bob Henson at Weather Underground. Their comments follow:
“Matthew was a slow moving, intense hurricane that proved difficult to predict compared to other recent hurricanes like Sandy. It formed on September 28th and very rapidly intensified to a Category 5 hurricane by late on the 30th. During the time it was at maximum intensity in the far southern Caribbean, long-range forecasts were very uncertain, with some models predicting that it would traverse the whole U.S. east coast up to Maine, and others taking it well out to sea. The models kept “changing their minds” about the trajectory of the storm, and Matthew ultimately defied them all by dealing a serious blow to North Carolina and then transitioning to an intense post-tropical cyclone.
“Matthew’s rapid rate of intensification just before reaching Category 5 status is experienced only once in 4 years in the Atlantic. As the climate continues to warm, we expect these rapid rates of intensification to become more common—an annual event by the end of this century if we do nothing to curb emissions.”
“While it was unclear exactly how bad Matthew would be early on, the model guidance always had it as a troublesome storm for the Caribbean. The ECMWF (a computer model for forecasting hurricanes) was very aggressive with its development.
“The Atlantic has been in a very slow period for storms the past few years. Matthew was also our first Category 5 hurricane since 2007—the longest period without one since the 1940s.”
Klotzbach also posted a list of records set by Hurricane Matthew. Among his findings were:
Hurricane Matthew’s intensification of 80 mph in 24 hours was the third strongest rapid intensification for an Atlantic Basin storm on record. Only Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Felix in 2007 intensified more rapidly.
Hurricane Matthew was the thirty-first Category 5 hurricane on record for the Atlantic Basin, and the first to form since Hurricane Felix in 2007.
When Hurricane Matthew became a Category 5 hurricane at latitude 13.3 it was the farthest south that a storm of that intensity has ever formed in the Atlantic Basin. At the time, the hurricane’s center was less than 100 miles off the coast of Colombia.
Hurricane Matthew maintained its intensity of Category 4 or Category 5 status for the longest period on record for the eastern Caribbean Sea.
The storm was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Haiti Hurricane Cleo in 1964.
When Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, then Cuba and then the Bahamas, it became the first storm to do so as a Category 4 hurricane.
“For me, the biggest surprise was how far north and east the heavy rains and flooding from Matthew extended–well into the Raleigh-Chapel Hill area, and well into parts of southeast Virginia. It’s common for hurricanes to generate very heavy rain to their north as they move into mid-latitudes, so this trend was predicted, but its degree was underestimated by models and forecasters.”
On October 7 as Matthew stormed up the U.S. southeast coast, Henson wrote about the difficulty forecasters encountered trying to predict Matthew’s track. NOTE: The “Figure 4” Henson mentions can be seen by going to this link and scrolling down to “Matthew’s forecast: Accuracy goes head-to-head with geometry.”
Henson wrote: “People along the central Florida coast can be forgiven for thinking that the NHC forecast for Matthew was a bust. Millions of folks on the coast who were warned about the potential of fierce Category 3 winds ended up with sustained winds barely above tropical-storm strength. Yet the actual forecast for Matthew–the storm itself–was remarkably accurate. The right-hand side of Figure 4 shows the 3-day forecast issued by NHC for Matthew on Tuesday morning, October 4. Matthew’s location on Friday morning was within 75 miles of the 3-day forecast position, well within the ‘cone of uncertainty. The cone width is based on error statistics for the five preceding hurricane seasons; at any point in the forecast, there’s a one-third chance that the hurricane will fall outside the cone. On the left-hand side of Figure 4, we see that the forecast for Katrina issued three days before landfall (on Friday, August 26, 2005) was far less accurate, with the actual position of Katrina more than 150 miles from the 3-day forecast location. Even with the wider cone of uncertainty circa 2005 (reflecting the greater track errors of 10-15 years ago), Katrina’s 3-day position was barely within the cone.”
6:51 p.m. 10-8-16
My barometer is starting to rise, meaning that the center of Matthew is moving away from us. I’m calling it quits for the night. I’ll be back with wrap-up info about Hurricane Matthew.
6:31 p.m. 10-8-16
North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports 25 vehicles trapped on I-95 southbound around mile marker 118. Governor’s office says 315,000 without power.
4:55 p.m. 10-8-16
From Brandon Nadeau in downtown Wilmington:
Seems like the rain and wind just…stopped for the most part within the past 30 minutes or so. Water Street is flooded and closed down. This will probably be my last post tonight, I’m heading home shortly. Stay safe everyone!
4:24 p.m. 10-8-16
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson at Weather Underground say Matthew pushed a massive storm surge ashore from Florida to South Carolina:
“Hurricane Matthew made landfall near 11 am EDT Saturday about 25 miles northeast of Charleston, South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. During the past two high tide cycles, Matthew has pushed a historic and destructive storm surge to the coasts of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, bringing coastal water levels that were the highest to third highest ever observed. The powerful hurricane, diminished to Category 2 strength with 105 mph winds early Saturday morning, nonetheless had a very large area of strong winds that were able to pile up a massive dome of water that was focused by the arc-shaped curve of the coast into a record-height storm surge.”
4:04 p.m. 10-8-16
Video from a police rescue vehicle showing flooding in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Rescuers get a woman and her child from car stalled in water over the car’s hood. As I said, no place for the water to go. Fayetteville is inland, about 90 miles northwest of us. Video from the Fayetteville Police Department.
3:59 p.m. 10-8-16
Unconfirmed Facebook chatter about two people killed in Bladen County, North Carolina (a short distance inland and northwest of us) when their car was submerged. Flooding may end up being the most deadly threat from this storm in North Carolina. Much of the state is already saturated and there’s simply no place for the rainfall to go. More than a foot is expected to fall as Matthew moves through here.
3:40 p.m. 10-8-16
All is perfectly still outside. Wondering if we’re in the eye. Didn’t think it was going to come this close to us.
3:18 p.m. 10-8-16
Well a big thank-you to Duke Energy. The rain is starting to pound here in Wilmington, and suddenly our power and Internet service reappeared. Jane doled out three Oreo cookies per person to celebrate. I’ll try to catch up on a few posts. We could very well lose power again, but I’ve got to say this is the first time I’ve ever ridden out a hurricane when the power came back on just as things started to roar a little. My old 1930s-vintage barometer is still falling steadily. But Matthew’s winds have now dropped to about 75 mph, and the latest forecast says it’ll be down to a tropical storm when as its eye passes us. I’m moving up some posts from earlier today by Brandon Nadeau from the Comments section. Brandon has been in downtown Wilmington today and has offered a few observations.
2:17 p.m. 10-8-16
If anyone is getting tired of hurricane info (and I am), today is the 60th anniversary of Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Back to business. Barometer still dropping, light rain at the moment. Going to duck into the car to charge the cell phone. Keep an eye on the comments section for posts from others here in Wilmington.
12:56 p.m. 10-8-16
From Brandon Nadeau:
Rain has definitely increased in intensity within the past 30 minutes. Still not much in the way of wind, I’d estimate the stronger gusts around 40-45mph but those are still very intermittent in nature. Downtown is a ghost town, from what I’ve heard I’m one of only 3-4 businesses open. The river is choppy, but there is no visible flooding yet, the water runoff is high but the storm drains haven’t been inundated yet.
12:50 p.m. 10-8-16
We’ve already lost power & internet in Beaumont neighborhood of Wilmington, NC. Making this entry by phone. Will check in every hour or so as long as conditions allow. We seem to be getting rain bands now, intermitant heavy rain & periods of relative calm. Barometer still dropping. Can already hear nearby generator going.
10:57 a.m. 10-8-16
From Brandon Nadeau:
I’m on the corner of Water and Orange Streets (in downtown Wilmington) working. The rain is coming down hard, not torrential, but hard, and the tin roof on the building I work in really accentuates every drop of rain. The wind is gusty, making the roof timbers of this 215 year old building creek, an ominous foreshadowing of what Matthew will bring later today into tonight. I’ll comment again before leaving work at 6 pm.
8:29 a.m. 10-8-16
We’re getting the overture to the storm here in Wilmington. Light rainfall and gusting winds. My barometer is still falling. Nothing alarming, but I’d say ominous, knowing what lies ahead. The 8 a.m. forecast says Matthew is down to a Category 1 with maximum winds of 85 mph. If the eye stays offshore as forecast, we’ll be on the weak side of the storm. But my main concern for us is trees going down. The ground is saturated with rain, and I’m afraid falling trees are going to cause a lot of problems. I’m uneasily eyeing a giant old pine tree outside my office window as I write this. John Fisher reports that Bald Head Island has lost the power feed from Southport. Dawn Taylor in the village of Avon on Hatteras Island reports that islanders are very concerned about what Matthew seems likely to do to a 144-year-old cemetery there.
4:19 a.m. 10-8-16
My barometer is starting to drop, which means that Hurricane Matthew is on its way. As of about two hours ago, the storm’s peak winds are now around 105 mph, which means it’s still a very strong Category 2 hurricane.
9:53 p.m. 10-7-16
Long day ahead tomorrow. Will resume blogging tomorrow morning and go for as long as conditions allow.
9:28 p.m. 10-7-16
The Weather Channel is reporting that five people in Florida were killed by Hurricane Matthew. More than one million customers are without power, TWC says.
9:22 p.m. 10-7-16
Hurricane chaser extraordinaire Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel just tweeted that he’s coming to Wrightsvillle Beach–that’s basically here–tomorrow.
9:13 p.m. 10-7-16
Hurricane Matthew’s outer bands were reaching Charleston, South Carolina earlier tonight. From The State of Columbia, South Carolina.
9:11 p.m. 10-7-16
Flooding on St. Simons Island near Savannah, Georgia.
8:51 p.m. 10-7-16
River Street in Savannah is underwater as Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge comes ashore there. Will post video if I can find it.
8:32 p.m. 10-7-16
Historic Saint Augustine, Florida is underwater from Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge. Towns farther down the peninsula were spared the worst of Matthew, but the storm’s eye moved closer to shore as it reached northern Florida.
8:01 p.m. 10-7-16
John Fisher and I have been friends since first grade. He shot this photo of the surf being churned up by Hurricane Matthew off Bald Head Island, North Carolina a few hours ago. We expect the eye to be offshore of North Carolina by tomorrow night. Amazing how these storms always seem to come at night.
7:49 p.m. 10-7-16
The Associated Press is reporting that two people were killed by Hurricane Matthew in Florida. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said a woman was killed when the hurricane’s winds toppled a tree onto a camper she was sharing with a friend. Volusia County officials reported that a woman was killed when a tree fell on her house.
7:08 p.m. 10-7-16
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters at Weather Underground report that Hurricane Matthew killed at least 800 in Haiti, but stayed just far enough offshore to spare Florida from the worst of its winds.
Henson and Masters also report that Matthew’s peak winds have diminished some, and it’s now a high-end Category 2 storm with maximum winds of around 110 mph.
6:57 p.m. 10-7-16
The Savannah Morning News website says Chuck Watson of Kinetic Analysis Corporation predicts that the likely damage from Hurricane Matthew to the Savannah metropolitan area will be around $180 million. Most of that total will be the cost of the evacuation, which he pegs at about $120-$150 million.
6:33 p.m. 10-7-16
National Weather Service says hurricane conditions “likely” in Wilmington, North Carolina, and announces that shelters are open.
6:23 p.m. 10-7-16
St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department announces that Florida National Guard troops have been posted at bridges leading from Saint Augustine to Saint Augustine Beach, and residents who evacuated for Hurricane Matthew will not be allowed to return before Saturday at the earliest. The Sheriff’s Department also says entry into city of Saint Augustine east of US 1 will not be allowed before tomorrow as well. The seawall at Saint Augustine has been over-topped by Matthew’s storm surge, and at least parts of the city are flooded.
6:00 p.m. 10-7-16
Storm surge coming ashore at St. Simons Island, Georgia as Hurricane Matthew continues up the coast. Video by Chris Smith, WJHG-TV.
4:27 p.m. 10-7-16
Storm surge flooding at the historic Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida can be seen at: https://www.facebook.com/theandrewcady/videos/1150442105037700/
Copy and paste into your browser’s address bar. (Sorry, can’t get URL embed to work for this one) Video by the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department.
4:14 p.m. 10-7-16
Photos of apparent storm surge flooding at St. Augustine Beach, Florida. Photos from St. Augustine Beach Police Department Facebook page.
4:01 p.m. 10-7-16
Matthew has moved past Saint Augustine, Florida (south of Jacksonville). Flooding reported at Saint Augustine Beach.
3:51 p.m 10-7-16
Mike Melton says that friends tell him damage in and near Vero Beach is relatively minor. “Alan Snel lost all his wooden fencing. His house came out OK. My dad lives in assisted living on SR 60 in Vero Beach and he never lost power. A friend in Sebastian has been without power for 14 hours, and has lots of tree and bush damage. A friend in Melbourne is without power and they still have 30 mph winds. Video from Jacksonville shows ocean water in the streets near the beach. My friends there have evacuated to places more inland.”
3:38 p.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie, Florida:
“Just drove to the north side of the Roosevelt Bridge and dropped a small generator of mine off at a friend’s house who was still without power in North River Shores (Martin County). Then drove up Savanna Road to Jensen Beach, and back to Port St. Lucie. Lots and lots of plant debris down everywhere–leaves and tree limbs and broken trees. No structural damage to speak of. Four gas stations still closed–no gas. McDonald’s was doing a land-office business on US 1. Some traffic lights non-functional. Treasure Coast slowly getting back to normal. I think most people are in great shape on the Treasure Coast. Most have power, most have no damage, but I’ve not seen Hutchinson Island, Sewall’s Point or Indian River Drive. The property across the street lost three sections of wood fence when a tree limb hit it. The general consensus here is that we got lucky and dodged a bullet. That’s pretty much it.”
3:09 p.m. 10-7-16
Getting ready for Hurricane Matthew here in Wilmington, North Carolina. Just boarded up the exterior French doors at my mother-in-law’s house. Made these shutters for Hurricane Isabelle in 2003, and as you can see this is the third time they’ve been used. I’ll be dealing with getting ready for the blow, but will get back to blogging this evening. Please check back. We’ve still got a couple days to go before this thing is over.
11:27 a.m. 10-7-16
Just received an emergency alert that we–that is, Wilmington, North Carolina–are under a hurricane warning. That means hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph are expected here within 24 hours. It looks like Matthew’s eye is going to come closer to us than previously expected. Oh happy day. I’ll be making entries here until I lose Internet access. Stay tuned.
10:12 a.m. 10-7-16
Citing statistics from Florida Power and Light Company, The Palm Beach Post reported earlier this morning that more than 275,000 customers are without power in Florida.
10:06 a.m. 10-7-16
Wayne Neely sends these photos of damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in and around Nassau, The Bahamas.
9:53 a.m. 10-7-16
Meteorologist Wayne Neely is sending photos from the Bahamas and I’ll have a few of them posted in a moment. Just received this email from him: “There is flooding and blocked roads all throughout the island and during the storm the Royal Bahamas Police Force had to go out and rescue 100+ persons from the southern part of the island and actually this part of the island suffered the most because of the storm’s approach from the south.”
9:42 a.m. 10-7-16
John Miglis says hello to Matthew in St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
9:36 a.m. 10-7-16
Just received an email from meteorologist Wayne Neely in Nassau. He says “we all made it through the storm ok but there is island-wide power outage and a significant amount of structural damage and trees blown down but that was to be expected with a storm of this magnitude but thankfully there were no loss of lives.”
9:24 a.m. 10-7-16
Reuters reports at least 478 dead in Haiti and more than 61,000 still in shelters.
9:15 a.m. 10-7-16
Here’s the latest five-day forecast for Hurricane Matthew. Graphic by Weather Underground.
8:24 a.m. 10-7-16
Mike Melton, who’s texting me from Port St. Lucie, Florida, caught a few hours of sleep and has resumed texting, which follows below. Looks like things weren’t too bad there. Port St. Lucie is about 100 miles north of Miami on the east coast of the peninsula.
7:29 a.m. 10-7-16
“I slept from 2 a.m. until 7 a.m. Just went outside. Here’s what I just sent out. As of 7:15 a.m., it’s getting daylight. I just went out into the street, and there’s lots of green leaves laying about, like someone mowed the trees. Across the street there’s a section of wood board fence down and a large tree limb laying near it. the sky is completely filled with low gray clouds that are moving in the opposite direction from yesterday afternoon. Now they are moving from southwest to northeast. I did lose power sometime early this morning, looks like about 5 a.m. But it’s back on, and I’m grateful to have it. I’m staying put until later today and then I hope to check out my warehouse. Will keep you all posted but it looks like I’ll be fine from here on out.”
2:46 a.m. 10-7-16
Recently posted by Bob Henson at Weather Underground:
“What was always recognized as a possibility–that Matthew would never quite make landfall on the Florida coast–emerged as the most likely outcome on Thursday night, as reflected in the 11 pm NHC outlook. Matthew’s track out of the Bahamas was angled just far enough north of northwest to keep the center rolling more or less parallel to the Florida coast. Provided that Matthew carries out the gradual curve to the right expected late Friday through Saturday, its center will likely remain between about 20 and 50 miles off the coast, perhaps all the way to Charleston, SC, by Saturday night. This path would be enough to keep Matthew’s inner core and its top sustained winds offshore, which is very good news in terms of limiting the most severe wind damage. On the down side, Matthew’s outer eyewall–which will likely be packing streaks of 60 to 90 mph sustained winds–will probably edge onto or just inland from the coast early Friday. If Matthew’s center remains offshore as the hurricane churns north and northeast toward Georgia, then its outer eyewall may be slower to weaken. People along the Florida coast from around Melbourne northward can expect several hours of high wind on Friday, fierce enough at times to topple trees and power lines. If not catastrophic (thankfully!), such damage may end up being far more widespread on this type of coast-scraping path than it would have been with a hurricane slamming onshore at a right angle.
“Hurricane-force winds are possible as far north as coastal Georgia and southern South Carolina later on Friday, but the primary threat here will be high water–the most deadly aspect of U.S. hurricanes. Because of the gradual expansion of Matthew’s wind field, its direction of motion, and the largely concave geometry of the coastline, barrier islands and inlets from north FL to southern SC remain at risk of major storm surge even if Matthew remains offshore. Late Thursday night, NHC was projecting the potential for coastal inundations of 7 to 11 feet from Sebastian Inlet, Florida, to Edisto Beach, South Carolina, including parts of the St. Johns River between the coast and Jacksonville. Breaking waves of up to 20 – 25 feet are possible atop the coastal surge.
“Time and again in recent years, we’ve seen hurricanes weaken in terms of peak winds as they approach the coast, yet push far more water onshore than residents expected. This is one reason why the Saffir-Simpson scale no longer directly relates its strength categories to storm surge: peak winds near the center are an unreliable index to how much surge a hurricane may actually produce. Even if Matthew weakens and stays offshore as projected, surge levels in some areas (especially far north Florida and Georgia) may be the highest observed in many decades, and I fear that many coastal residents will underestimate this risk.
“Very heavy rainfall is the other water-related threat that still looms large with Matthew. Widespread totals in the 10” to 15” range are projected to fall within about 50 miles of the coast from far north Florida to southeast North Carolina (see Figure 5). The southeast half of the Carolinas can expect 3” to 10” amounts. This may be enough to cause extensive flooding, especially where 10” – 15” of rain has fallen in the last three weeks. With winds potentially gusting to 40 – 50 mph, we can expect extensive tree loss and power outages.
“If Matthew fails to make landfall on Friday, or if it does come ashore below Category 3 strength, the remarkable and unprecedented U.S. “drought” in major hurricane landfalls will continue. The last hurricane to strike the U.S. with Category 3 winds was Wilma, in October 2005–nearly 11 years ago.”
2:07 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“I’m afraid if that if there’s not much property loss, people will become jaded again, as the pre-storm hype far exceeds the storm itself. We got lucky here–the Bahamas and Haiti not so much.”
2:06 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“Looks like we dodged a bullet here–seems like it’s starting to wind down a bit out there. I’m interested to see what it looks like once the sun comes up.”
1:59 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“Hurricane tracks are a funny thing–the predictive models have gotten much better but are still just estimates. I distinctly remember being at a street celebration called Dancing in the Streets in Stuart, Florida, the town next to me, on a Saturday night in late August 1992. My buddies and I were discussing whether or not to buy plywood for the hurricane that was due to hit our area Monday morning. We were very cavalier about it, and it turned out we needed no preparations at all. Hurricane Andrew never turned north, but instead barreled into Miami and destroyed whole swaths of civilization. I drove through Miami and Homestead a month after Andrew, and could not recognize entire areas. The destruction was immense. We have learned much since then about building codes and construction that will survive such impacts, and about hurricane tracking but it is still as much art as it is science.”
1:32 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“Trying to sleep but awake enough to keep listening to the winds. Unlike Hurricane Wilma, which I remember as a continuous dull roaring wind that went on for hours, Matthew is defined by gusting wind cycles, running up and down the gamut. It will blow hard, then slack off to almost silence, the ramp up to another strong gust. NPR radio just read off high wind gusts number from our area, and Jensen Beach was in the 50s, Port St. Lucie was in the 60s, and Vero Beach was highest with 70 mph. So far no 100 mph-plus winds four miles inland. The eye is now north of my latitude so I expect that we have seen the worst pass by us. I’m still surprised–and pleased–to have power. It’s the little things, lol.”
12:41 a.m. 10-7-16
Jeremy Efron in Lantana, Florida left a message for Hurricane Matthew as he boarded up his business Thursday. Photo by Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post.
12:30 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“The radio just said the eye is 45 miles offshore at Port St. Lucie, where I’m located. But I heard on NPR yesterday that the storm is the size of the state of
Arizona, so areas 100 miles northwest of me will be affected as the storm passes by the state.”
12:08 a.m. 10-7-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“It’s 11:45 p.m., just before midnight, and the wind has picked up considerably. Not consistent, but very gusty. Much like the sound of pounding surf, where you get regular booms as the waves hit shore. I poked my head out the front door, and there’s no evidence of high water yet, and no torrential rain, but short squall bursts. The trees are swaying, but it’s hard to see anything else out there. Have had power continuously, but with the wind I would expect to lose it at some point. I have lived here for 30 years, so I have seen the effect of Frances (I was out of town when she hit) and Jeanne in 2004 (I went to my Mom’s on the west coast of Florida) and I stayed in the house for Wilma in 2005. This is no worse than Wilma, so far. But it’s definitely a serious storm, and there will be property damage. I think I’m going back to bed.”
Palm Beach Post reports that more than 41,000 people in Palm Beach County are now without power, and almost 95,000 in Florida have lost electricity, citing reports from Florida Power and Light.
10:06 p.m. 10-6-16
Stepping away from the computer for a quick nap before Matthew’s expected Florida landfall in a few hours.
9:51 p.m. 10-6-16
A woman in Haiti stands on the porch of what remains of her home. Hurricane Matthew began its rampage in the Caribbean by blasting Haiti and Cuba before entering the Bahamas. Photo from the Weather Channel website, credit Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images.
9:28 p.m. 10-6-16
Weather Underground has a new post saying that Hurricane Matthew has been “an extremely difficult storm to forecast,” and was undergoing some “extremely complicated and rapid changes” earlier today.
It’s not unusual for very powerful hurricanes to undergo what’s known as an eyewall replacement cycle. My layman’s explanation of that phenomenon is that the storm has become so powerful that it’s producing a new eyewall around the old one. Weather Underground says that Matthew may be undergoing that phenomenon at the moment. When that happens, it disrupts the storm’s momentum and it loses strength for a while.
At the same time, however, the storm crossed the warm waters of the Gulf Stream a few hours ago, and may have gotten a shot of energy from that.
8:58 p.m. 10-6-16
As of about 8 p.m., the eye of Matthew was about 75 miles offshore from West Palm Beach. This post from Eliot Kleinberg and Sonja Isger at the Palm Beach Post, posted at 8:40 p.m.:
“The evening continued to look more promising for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast as Hurricane Matthew passed just offshore, the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center told Palm Beach Post news partner WPTV-Channel 5. ‘Let’s hope that the core remains offshore. We think it will,’ Ed Rappaport said around 8:30 p.m. ‘We’ve got more concern as it goes farther north.’ Rappaport said hurricane force winds are possible later tonight for the northern part of the Treasure Coast. Asked about models that show the storm looping back around and again threatening South Florida, Rappaport said, “It’s unlikely. Yes, we do have a forecast that has it come back to the south but storms that move to the south have weakened and weakened significantly.”
The hurricane’s “core,” or its eye, contains the storm’s strongest winds. If Matthew’s eye stays offshore from West Palm Beach, that means that area will be spared the worst effects of the storm.
8:17 p.m. 10-6-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“Wind gusts are picking up in strength. Friends of mine located about 10 miles from me have lost power already due to a blown transformer. I’m taking a quick nap since I’m not sure I’ll get much sleep later on.”
8:11 p.m. 10-6-16
WLRN in Miami reports that US Coast Guard ships and Bahamian warships have escaped Hurricane Matthew’s fierce power in Key West. The city’s harbor can easily handle deep-draft ships. Thanks Anna Costello for posting this.
7:59 p.m. 10-6-16
Weather Underground‘s Jeff Masters has this unsettling comment in a story by Reuters:
“If Matthew does make landfall along the Florida coast, this (Cape Canaveral) would be the most likely spot for it. Billions of dollars of facilities and equipment are at risk at Kennedy Space Center and nearby bases, which have never before experienced a major hurricane.”
The storm’s winds are expected to be around 145 mph or better when it reaches Cape Canaveral tomorrow.
7:51 p.m. 10-6-16
From Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie:
“It’s getting windier but still not much rain. I’m thinking I’ll take a nap now because I have a feeling I won’t be getting much sleep later on tonight. I’ll text you in a couple of hours or if something significant happens.”
7:44 p.m. 10-6-16
John Miglis sends this update from Saint Augustine Beach:
“The beach is a ghost town. Like the guy said who was plunging from the Empire State Building, ‘So far, so good.’ ”
7:07 p.m. 10-6-16
6:36 p.m. 10-6-16
Mike Melton in Port St. Lucie reported this earlier today:
“This is a serious storm, with projected ocean surge of up to 9 feet, which will put some places of our barrier island completely underwater. Winds are forecast for 145 mph, which will cause significant property damage. I’m hunkered down in a concrete block house with hurricane shutters all around about 4 miles inland from the ocean. So far it’s just watch and wait.”
5:59 p.m. 10-6-16
Author and screenwriter John Miglis and his wife Diane are riding out the storm in Saint Augustine Beach. John says he’s finishing a martini and they’re settling down to a steak dinner. They expect the worst late tomorrow morning and he’ll report in then if conditions allow.
5:33 p.m. 10-6-16
Matthew isn’t expected to draw near to the Florida coast until after midnight. Here’s the Weather Underground graphic of the latest forecast:
5:21 p.m. 10-6-16
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson at Weather Underground have posted this update on Hurricane Matthew:
“Hurricane Matthew is once again an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm. Matthew’s top sustained winds were upgraded to 140 mph in the 11 am EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, based on surface wind data collected by dropsondes (parachute-borne instrument packages) and the SFMR radiometer aboard Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Matthew’s central pressure dropped more than 12 millibars overnight, and a jump in surface winds typically follows such a drop after 12-24 hours. Hurricane Warnings are now in place from Broward County, Florida, to Ediston Beach, South Carolina. As of 2 pm EDT Thursday, Matthew’s sustained winds were holding at 140 mph, with the storm located about 125 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida.”
5:06 p.m. 10-6-16
My old friend Alan Snel called a few minutes ago. Al has boarded up his house in Vero Beach and is heading across the state on Florida State Highway 60 to ride it out with friends in Tampa. I remember that stretch of road well. Al says there was a major traffic jam at SR 60’s intersection with Florida’s Turnpike at what once was called Yeehaw Junction as evacuees get out of harm’s way. Friends of Al’s will be glad to know that his aged but feisty pal, Pugsy the pug, is with him. The photo shows Al’s house in Vero Beach, which is expected to get some very fierce winds from Matthew.
4 p.m. 10-6-16
The storm is approaching the edge of the Bahamas now, expected to make its nearest pass to Miami later tonight. This video by Michael Laca of TropMet was posted on Facebook about 30 minutes ago. Michael is chasing the storm and shot this video at Orchid Isle near Vero Beach.
:Mike Melton is an old friend in Port St. Lucie, about 40 miles up the coast from West Palm Beach and about 30 miles south of Vero Beach. Here’s a text from Mike a few minutes ago:
“It’s 4 pm, and no rain since the first couple of rain bands passed through about 1 pm. Temp is mild, wind is breezy, lots of gray clouds. But the clouds are coming in from the east, and moving east to southeast, which is a very unusual direction for the wind here. Media is really pushing evacuation, which makes me doubt the wisdom of staying put. But the structure I’m in was built after the last set of building codes, so it’s designed to withstand such a storm. And the hurricane panels cover every opening, the roof has no big overhangs to catch the wind. We shall see. Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.”
Matthew is expected to touch land at or near Cape Canaveral around 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Will update as info comes in. Stay tuned.
Listen to author Willie Drye discuss his IPPY Award-winning book, For Sale-American Paradise, with host Frank Stasio on WUNC radio’s “The State of Things,” and with Joseph Cooper on WLRN’s “Topical Currents.” Follow him on Facebook.