Tense few days ahead for Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas as Matthew closes in

UPDATED: 2:40 AM ET Oct 6

I am in Florida now to cover the impacts of hurricane Matthew. After an exhausting several days keeping up with the latest model changes, it is now time to think landfall. Obviously the Bahamas are experiencing the worst from Matthew tonight and through the day Thursday but after that time, it is Florida’s turn. How strong Matthew becomes and exactly where the center moves inland, if it does, remains to be seen though it seems poised to get stronger in the hours ahead.

I have posted a video discussion from the hotel here in Florida. I will be out and about tomorrow setting up equipment to monitor the effects. I will have another video post around 11am ET.

M. Sudduth 2:40 AM ET Oct 6

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Hurricane Matthew poised to make history

I am currently on the road in route to Florida. As I travel, hurricane Matthew gathers  strength over the very warm waters in the vicinity of the Bahamas. It won’t be long until it reaches category for intensity I am afraid.  Residents of the Bahamas simply need to hunker down and use common sense as Matthew pounds its way through. Extreme hurricane winds, blinding rain, and a  lethal storm surge will accompany Matthew as it moves through the Bahamas tonight and tomorrow.

By tomorrow night, Matthew will begin spreading its effects over Florida. The spiral bands will move their way into the southeast part of the state as Matthew moves to the northwest.  Conditions will rapidly deteriorate into the morning hours on Friday with a probable landfall expected somewhere between Daytona Beach or south.  Even if the center does not make landfall, very high wind is likely along the I-95 corridor in eastern FL.

Depending on how far west Matthew tracks even Orlando could experience hurricane force wind gusts.  So much depends on the exact track over the next 48 hours.  Tomorrow will be a very important day for Floridians as it will be the last day for them to prepare.

Farther up the coast towards Georgia and the Carolinas,  we will just have to wait and see what the angle of the track is and how much structure remains with Matthew after its landfall in Florida.

Right now you can bet on heavy rain and gusty winds and some storm surge from Georgia north in to South and North Carolina.  Again the exact extent of these impacts depends so much on factors that cannot be resolved this early.

I will have a more in-depth a video discussion very late tonight  after I arrive at my hotel in Titusville. Tomorrow, I will begin setting up equipment to document the effects of the storm while collecting valuable weather data.  Follow long live via the link below:

http://ustre.am/7kSh

You may also follow along in our mobile app, Hurricane Impact, two words,  available on the App Store and Google play.  I will be streaming live video of the link above during all of my waking hours.  Best of luck to the Floridians as well as folks in the Bahamas during this stressful time.

M. Sudduth 7:45 pm ET Oct 5

 

 

 

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Matthew moving over Haiti today, headed for Bahamas tomorrow

Latest track map from the NHC showing a threat from Matthew to many locations in the southwest Atlantic over the coming days.

Latest track map from the NHC showing a threat from Matthew to many locations in the southwest Atlantic over the coming days.

Matthew has seemingly become better organized overnight with a classic hurricane shape and excellent outflow in all quadrants. While it may look spectacular on satellite images, the results are very unpleasant at the surface. No doubt there is terrible destruction and loss of life in Haiti as the hurricane moves across this morning and throughout the rest of the day.

Top winds are 145 mph and this will likely fluctuate with time as Matthew encounters land. Once in the southeast Bahamas tonight, the hurricane has a chance to go full throttle and could reach category five intensity over the very warm, untapped water of the southwest Atlantic. Yes, I said category five and we all know how intensity forecasting can go. After all, Matthew reached category five soon after it became a “minimal” hurricane the other day. The water in the Bahamas is so warm with plenty of upper ocean heat content – I worry very much for the people along the track.

Once we get to about 48 hours out, Matthew will turn fairly sharply to the northwest towards the southeast coast of Florida. Just how close the core winds come to the peninsula remains to be seen. A lot will depend on the structure of the hurricane and how far out to the west the hurricane force winds extend. Beyond that, we will be watching for tropical storm force winds which will almost certainly reach Florida by Friday.

Before Matthew makes its closest approach, swells and rough seas will be the first signs of the hurricane’s arrival. Boaters and beach goers will need to heed the warnings which will be posted soon I am sure. This will be a very dangerous situation for coastal interests, no matter how close Matthew tracks to Florida. Surfers will have excellent waves to work with for several days but the conditions will become dangerous quickly and only the most experienced surfers should venture out in my opinion.

Once Matthew reaches the vicinity of Florida, it is expected to turn north around the western side of the Bermuda High. When this turn takes place and how sharp it is will determine which locations from Georgia up through North Carolina and southeast Virginia receive the brunt of the impacts. Again, it’s impossible to know even within the next four to five days. Any deviation east or west from the forecast track could bring the core of the hurricane on shore. I think it is safe to say that a large swath of coastline from Florida to North Carolina is at risk of seeing hurricane conditions between Thursday and Sunday. We will just have to wait and see if the eye ever actually crosses the coast.

As it stands now, all of the usual impacts can be expected as Matthew tears through the Bahamas and around the Southeast region of the U.S. High waves, dangerous surf, heavy rain, hurricane wind and possible storm surge are all matters that need to be considered. Determining exactly who gets the worst of it is impossible – everyone needs to be ready and take this threat seriously. The intensity could vary greatly depending upon how much land interaction there is as Matthew turns north and eventually northeast. The more it moves over the warm water of the Gulf Stream, the stronger it will likely be farther north in places like North Carolina. Hate to say it yet again, but we just have to watch and be ready.

As far as impacts up the remainder of the East Coast, everything depends on the angle of the track. A more northerly track will obviously bring tropical storm conditions to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast with very heavy rain possible as Matthew interacts with a cold front. A more easterly component to the final track will mean less effects from Virginia north. We can deal with this and how to best prepare in a couple of days once we know how far west Matthew tracks and what the eventual turn north and northeast will look like from there.

I am preparing to head down to the Florida coast tomorrow. My goal is to set up one weather station to capture wind and pressure data from the hurricane. My target area is New Smyrna beach and I have good contacts there. I will set out the weather station and probably one live camera unit right on the ocean front to monitor the conditions in real time. I will discuss the field mission plans in more detail in a later blog post but for now, this is the first idea for an intercept with Matthew along Florida’s east coast.

I’ll post a video update within the hour so be sure to check our app and YouTube channel for that.

M. Sudduth 8:10 AM ET Oct 4

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