Hurricane Matthew Making its Way Towards the United States
Hurricane Matthew is on the move. After devastating Haiti and eastern Cuba with 145+ mph winds, heavy rains, flash floods and landslides, the monstrous storm will most likely make landfall in the Bahamas later this evening.
The current forecast calls for Matthew to first approach the central Florida Atlantic Coast later Thursday and early Friday. Then, the storm is supposed to move parallel to the coast and approach the Southeast and Cape Hatteras coast on late Friday evening and early Saturday morning.
There is still a large amount of uncertainty in the exact track of Matthew as it approaches the U.S., but here’s a look at what Matthew could bring to eastern Florida and the Southeast later this week:
U.S. Watches and Warnings for Hurricane Matthew
A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Deerfield Beach to Volusia/Brevard county line in Florida. Remember, a hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (75+ mph) are possible within the area. A hurricane watch also indicates that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours of when the watch is issued.
Tropical Storm Watches are in effect in parts of the Florida Keys and southeastern Florida from Seven Mile Bridge to south of Deerfield Beach. This includes Lake Okeechobee.
People living within the watch areas should begin accessing emergency supplies like food and water and preparing homes for high winds and heavy rain. Being prepared to evacuate is also a good idea.
Additional watches will be likely up the Florida Atlantic Coast into the Southeast and Outer Banks later tonight or early Wednesday.
Tropical storm strength winds of at least 35 mph will reach the central Florida Atlantic Coast later Wednesday and lasting into Friday as Hurricane Matthew sideswipes the coast. If the hurricane moves west over Florida it will bring even stronger hurricane-force winds ashore, especially in the area currently in the hurricane watch.
After battering Florida, the wind will continue to threaten the Atlantic coast late Friday and early Saturday morning. The hurricane track’s proximity to the coastline will be the determining factor in when tropical storm force or hurricane force winds will be felt in the Southeast.
Rain and Inland Flooding
If Matthew stays offshore of Florida there will be less rainfall over land, with the coasts seeing a couple inches of rain and inland areas the Florida peninsula seeing dramatically less. If the hurricane takes a western turn, significantly more rain will fall across southern and central Florida, with 5 to 10 inches of rain bringing the risk of flash flooding.
The Southeast and Carolinas could see the most rain from this system as it edges up the coast and potentially makes a landfall somewhere in the Carolinas this weekend. A total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches from Hurricane Matthew will be possible in southeastern Georgia, eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. This will trigger flash flooding if the hurricane continues on its current forecast track.
Storm Surge and Coastal Flooding
The northward track of Matthew along the Florida Atlantic and the Southeast coast will generate significant storm surge and coastal flooding as the onshore flow along the hurricane’s northern flank builds later Wednesday and last through Friday.
The highest surge will be in the hurricane watch area and northward into the southeastern Georgia, where a surge of 3 to 5 feet are possible. This will cause significant beach erosion and some coastal flooding in low-lying areas.
Tropical systems often produce quick-forming and quick-moving tornadoes, especially in the outer band areas. For this system, tornadoes will be possible Thursday and Friday across Florida and into southeastern Georgia and South Carolina.
Keep checking WeatherBug.com’s News section for all the latest updates on Hurricane Matthew.