Tense times in Florida as Matthew threat grows


Tropical storm wind probabilities through Saturday. (Credit: NHC)

Forecast models for Hurricane Matthew shifted west in a big way on Monday, putting the Florida peninsula under the gun.

The two major models, the ECMWF and the GFS, continued to keep the hurricane off shore of South Florida’s East Coast — but just barely.

But the late-Monday run of the GFS had Matthew brushing the coast of Martin County and then riding north just off-shore all the way to Jacksonville.

The UKMET, a very respected model of the United Kingdom’s Met Office, brought Matthew ashore north of West Palm Beach late Thursday and then skirted it up the coast, exiting back into the Atlantic near Daytona Beach.

The Navy’s NAVGEM model was even more dire, bringing Matthew into Miami and then across the peninsula toward Tampa and then up the West Coast.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency.

“If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven’t seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992,” Scott said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The National Hurricane Center put chances of tropical storm force winds in West Palm Beach, and East-Central Florida, at 60-70 percent, a big leap from the 20 percent over the weekend.

Hurricane force wind probabilities — 74 mph or greater — were at 10-20 percent.

At 5 p.m., Matthew had winds of 140 mph and was heading north at 7 mph. The forecast was for it to remain a major hurricane with winds of 120 mph on Thursday.

Hurricane watches were extended to the northern Bahamas.

National Weather Service in Miami:

“The official track still looks to be to the east of South Florida, but there has been a trend in the models to the west. Also, the timing of some models has slowed some, and is closer to being in line with the ECMWF runs. So, tropical storm to hurricane conditions will be possible for our Atlantic marine zones from late Wednesday through Friday. For the mainland, the impacts will greatly depend on the track Matthew takes.”

National Weather Service Melbourne:

“On the current track, breezy/windy conditions can be expected with tropical storm gusts possible, especially over the coastal counties Wednesday night and through Thursday night. Building seas/rough surf, dangerous/life threatening rip currents at area beaches, and significant beach erosion will be possible as well. Persons are urged to pay close attention to the latest forecasts of Hurricane Matthew.”


Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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