Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew: Devastating Impacts Ahead

Hurricane Matthew has made two landfalls already. One occurred on the western tip of the island nation of Haiti. The second happened on the eastern tip of Cuba. Now, the massive storm is dissecting the Bahamas as it eyes a potential Florida landfall. It has already caused multiple deaths from its intense rainfall, winds, storm surge, and even isolated tornadoes. As of 7PM Wednesday evening, its winds are sustained at 115 MPH. That is good for being rated a category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Regardless of the number assigned to the monster storm, it will cause significant problems from Miami to South Carolina.
According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, the hurricane is expected to bring winds of 90-110 MPH with gusts upwards of 135 MPH to Florida's east coast. That threat alone will bring widespread extensive to locally devastating damage to the counties along the shore, according to the NWS. Not only that, but storm surge of 3-7 feet is expected to occur in spots. Waves of 12-18 feet will crash into the shore as well, per the NWS, increasing the risk of beach and shore erosion, in addition to coastal flooding. Very heavy rainfall of 8-12"+ is anticipated up the Florida coast into southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina.
In addition, isolated tornadoes are possible along the immediate Florida coastline as the eyewall of Matthew comes within miles of making a potential landfall. If the hurricane's center does push onshore, it would be the first October landfall on Florida's eastern side in over 50 years! Overall, Matthew is expected to bring life-threatening conditions to the eastern side of Florida. Emergency management is encouraging--or evening requiring--evacuations to take place. States of emergency have been declared from Florida to North Carolina ahead of the storm.

Once the system curves towards South Carolina, it is expected to get caught up in the upper-level flow and curve off towards the east and eventually southeast. However, it's important to note that after 3-4 days out, the track becomes quite difficult to nail down. Therefore, after turning away from Florida's coast late Friday, the expected track could and likely will sway at least 50-100 miles.

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