Matthew becomes Category 5 powerhouse; forecasters weigh possible Florida impacts

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Hurricane Matthew strengthened Friday a 160-mph storm — a Category 5 — as it moved just south of west at 7 mph. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

11 PM UPDATE: Hurricane Matthew blew up into a Category 5 monster on Friday night — the first Category 5 storm in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix 2007. Sustained winds were at 160 mph.

At 11 p.m., Matthew was moving west at 7 mph. It was forecast to maintain major hurricane status through Monday, when it could strike Jamaica. The island was under a hurricane watch Friday night.

The next stop on Matthew’s forecast trip north is Cuba, which should weaken it. The official NHC forecast makes it a 105-mph storm by mid-week in the Bahamas.

In its 11 p.m. discussion, the NHC reiterated: “It is important to remind users that average NHC track forecast errors are around 175 miles at day 4 and 230 miles at day 5. Therefore, it is too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts from Matthew in Florida.”

Southeast Florida has moved into the NHC’s cone of error.

EARLIER UPDATE: The new NHC track has again been adjusted a little to the left through 72 hours given the initial position and motion, and after that time is along the previous official forecast but slower, following the slower trend in the guidance this cycle. The NHC forecast is near the middle of the guidance envelope and is a little to the east of the multi-model consensus at days 4 and 5.

“It is important to remind users that average NHC track forecast errors are around 175 miles at day 4 and 230 miles at day 5. Therefore, it is too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts from Matthew in Florida.”

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ORIGINAL POST: Hurricane Matthew became the season’s second major hurricane with winds of 115 mph late Friday morning. It may strengthen further when it is forecast to swipe eastern Jamaica early Monday morning. It’s expected to weaken over Cuba but still batter the Bahamas with 100-mph winds on Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Although the major forecast models have consistently kept Matthew off-shore of Florida’s East Coast, even as the weekend approaches it’s still a hurricane that needs to be watched. A few outlying models, including the GFDL, take it close to or right into South Florida and some of the European Ensemble members do the same.

With the high in the Central Atlantic pulling back to the east, and a trough digging deep into the Gulf of Mexico, it appears that the turn to the northwest and north should happen on schedule on Saturday.

 

It was in the low 80s over most of the Florida peninsula Friday morning but the mid-50s in the Houston area. While the cool air won’t make it into South Florida — not surprisingly — the trough should keep a southwesterly wind flow in place until early next week, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

For now, it looks like Hurricane Matthew will remain far enough off of Florida’s East Coast to avoid major impacts. However, the National Hurricane Center is giving coastal areas a 5 percent chance of getting tropical storm-force winds through Wednesday, and a 10 percent chance just off-shore.

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Will South Florida feel fringe effects from Hurricane Matthew? (Credit: NHC)

The National Weather Service in Miami released an impact briefing on Friday afternoon warning that a flood advisories could be issued for South Florida’s East Coast on Tuesday. Forecasters predicted rough surf and beach erosion on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s what forecasters had to say about the setup in their analysis on Friday:

“The long term period continues to remain highly uncertain and dependent upon the evolution, strength, and track of Hurricane Matthew. While there continues to remain significant uncertainty on potential impacts for land areas, confidence continues to increase that marine conditions will deteriorate and become hazardous early next week, possibly continuing through most of the week.

“Regardless, scattered showers and thunderstorms will certainly be possible through the long term period, with the eventual track of Matthew ultimately determining the areal coverage of convective activity. It will likely be breezy at times as well during the long
term period, especially along the east coast. High temperatures will generally be in the mid- to upper-80s with low temperatures in the 70s.

“While there remains a great deal of uncertainty on potential impacts of Hurricane Matthew for South Florida, now is the time to review hurricane preparedness plans and to make sure your hurricane supplies are fully stocked. Interests in South Florida should continue to remain well informed on the forecast regarding Hurricane Matthew with the latest information from the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service Miami.”

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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