Friday afternoon satellite image of Hurricane Matthew. (Credit: NOAA)
Florida dodged a big bad barometric bullet on Thursday night with the arrival and departure of Hurricane Matthew, as strongest winds remained offshore. Even Northeast Florida appears to have been spared.
“We have been very fortunate that Matthew’s category 3 winds have remained a short distance offshore of the Florida Coast thus far, but this should not be a reason to let down our guard,” the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its mid-day update. “Only a small deviation to the left of the forecast track could bring these winds onshore.”
A few of the highest wind gusts:
A 107-mph pounding was reported in Cape Canaveral Friday morning, according to Weather Underground. Other than that, “Matthew has yet to generate sustained winds of hurricane force anywhere in Florida,” Jeff Masters, director of meteorology said Friday afternoon.
An observer in Ormond Beach checked in with a gust of 81 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne via Weather Underground.
Maximum gusts along the treasure coast ranged from 60-70-plus mph; St. Augustine reported a gust of 60 mph on Friday morning.
Down the coast, West Palm Beach topped out with 50 mph on Thursday (Palm Beach International Airport); winds hit 45 mph in Fort Lauderdale and 35 mph in Miami. Rainfall in South Florida was in the 1-2 inch range.
Matthew’s winds were muscular enough to crack a tree right down the middle in West Palm Beach. (Photo by John Nelander)
WEST SIDE STORY: I spent Thursday night in the Tampa area visiting friends, but left early Friday morning and returned to my neighborhood in West Palm Beach. I found a tree down in the road outside my driveway. Also, support posts for the lattice work behind my patio bar had been pulled up, causing the structure to lean at a precarious angle.
Nothing that a couple of bags of Quckrete can’t fix.
Floridians everywhere spent the night “hunkering down” after a long day of hurricane preparations, hoping for the best but bracing for the worst as television news reporters dressed in rain slickers barked in the background.
The three most popular live feeds were, in order:
- One, the rain-battered reporter standing under a palm tree with fronds thrashing about wildly, or shouting over the roar at the beach with waves crashing into a sea wall;
- Two, interviews with residents who had gone to a community shelter (and yes, shelters were open in the interior of the peninsula and the West Coast, too), and;
- Three, the station’s meteorologist showing the latest track of doom highlighted by the projected strength of the storm (Category 4).
Then cut to commercial — the latest negative political ad.
Rinse and repeat.
Official forecast track for Matthew. (Credit: NHC)
COME AGAIN? The loop advertised by the GFS and some of the other forecast models, showing Matthew angling back to the south and southwest early next week — and perhaps threatening the Bahamas again — remains a disturbing possibility.
But high wind shear of up to 50 knots is expected to knock Matthew off its game and it may limp through the islands as, at best, a tropical depression.
It has a lot of gall showing up again anyway, and should reconsider a second visit to an area where it’s clearly not welcome.