Tropical Storm Matthew forms, hurricane expected in Caribbean by Friday

hurricane-matthew

 The official forecast from the NHC pushes Matthew into Cuba as a hurricane Monday night or early Tuesday morning. (Credit: NHC)

THURSDAY UPDATE: The new official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for Matthew to hit southeastern Cuba as a Category 2 100-mph hurricane late Monday night. Here’s the model roundup (most with Matthew as strong hurricane):

GFS (06Z) has Matthew just east of Andros Island on Wednesday.

ECMWF (00Z) has moved east and mostly misses the Bahamas. Some Ensemble members farther west into Gulf of Mexico.

CMS (00Z) similar to GFS, just east of Andros. CMS Ensembles farther west with several going into the Gulf of Mexico and others near or over Florida peninsula.

NAVGEM (00Z) Also east of Andros but on Tuesday.

HWRF (06Z): Clips the southeastern Bahamas heading north-northeast on Tuesday.

GFDL (06Z): The big outlier — slams western Jamaica and the southern coast of Central Cuba on Tuesday (likely as a major hurricane).

ORIGINAL POST: Tropical Storm Matthew formed near the Windward Islands Wednesday morning, and forecasters from the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become a hurricane in the Caribbean. Matthew could be a 105-mph Category 2 hurricane on Sunday as it nears Jamaica.

The storm is expected to continue west to west-northwest through Saturday, after which a turn toward the northwest may begin. The crucial question is how quickly that turn takes place — the GFS has consistently shown an earlier turn, which could usher Matthew through the Greater Antilles and then north, east of the Bahamas.

Some of the other forecast models suggest a later turn, which would put Cuba more under the gun and possibly the U.S. East Coast.

Most of the forecast models continue to show Matthew going well east of the Florida peninsula. NOAA’s GFS is east of Florida, and the ECMWF has come more into line with it, forecasting a track to the east of the Central and Northern Bahamas.

At Weather Underground, however, Bob Henson has this analysis of Matthew’s track:

“There remains huge uncertainty in Matthew’s fate beyond the weekend. A large minority of the members of the European ensemble model run from 12Z Wednesday take Matthew back westward toward the Gulf of Mexico as it is approaching Cuba and Haiti, while members of the 12Z Wednesday GFS ensemble are in unanimous agreement that Matthew will continue northward.

“We cannot yet discount the possibilities in the Euro ensemble, but assuming that Matthew moves into The Bahamas by early next week–as indicated by the 12Z Wednesday operational runs of the GFS, European, and UKMET models–Matthew’s subsequent path will hinge on the state of the upper-level low parking over the Mid-Atlantic into the weekend, as well as another upper-level trough that will be plowing eastward across the United States next week.

“The upper-level flow across North America and the North Atlantic will include several blocking features late this week into early next week, and these are notoriously difficult to predict. The most we can say at this point is that Matthew has the potential to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf or Atlantic U.S. coasts by later next week.”

The NHC’s Lixion Avilia said in the 11 p.m. analysis of the storm: “There will be very interesting days ahead as Matthew moves toward the central and western Caribbean Sea,
and users are reminded that the average NHC track errors at days 4 and 5 are on the order of 180 and 240 miles, respectively.”

At 11 p.m., Matthew had winds of 65 mph and was moving west at 21 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the Grenadine Islands. Tropical storm force winds extended 205 miles from the center, mostly to the northeast.

Matthew is the 13th named storm of the 2016 season.

Here are two reports from Dominica via the Caribbean Hurricane Network:

“We are currently experiencing a lot of wind coming in heavy gusts. We have plenty of bamboo down and the top of a tree on the lawn. Looking at the satellite photographs, Dominica is more in the path of Mathew although at the moment it looks like Martinique will bare more of the brunt.”

Also: “It has been Unrelenting- almost From the wee early hours of this morning we have been getting a bit of a whipping up here in the North of the island with squally tropical storm conditions as the system consistently tries to better wrap and align its center of circulation/convection. And the ‘licking’ continues- as we are after-all pretty much basically in the North East Quadrant of the storm.”

Martinique: Winds to near-hurricane force, trees down, 20,000 without power, according to post on Weather Underground. Link to Martinique webcam.

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Forecast model tracks for Tropical Storm Matthew. (Credit: SFWMD)

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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