October 6: Matthew Approaches Florida, Calm Weather Locally

The big story is obviously Hurricane Matthew, which will make landfall on the east coast of Florida tonight.  I’ll come back to that in a second, but I want to quickly let you know what’s on the way locally.  Weather in the Midstate will remain calm for the next several days, with temperatures well above-average today and tomorrow, reaching the mid to upper 80s:
Cooler and breezy Saturday, as the atmosphere gets squeezed by Matthew’s closest approach (500 miles away!) with highs in the mid 70s. The dry weather pattern will continue until at least the middle of next week.

Now to Hurricane Matthew…it’s hard to talk about this storm without engaging in hyperbole.  But the way things are trending now, this looks BAD.  When you have professors of meteorology with tropical research experience saying things like this…tweet…well, that tells you a lot.  Let’s get into some details.

As of this morning, Matthew is tracking through the Bahamas as a Category-3 hurricane with 125 mph sustained winds:
The islands of the Bahamas don’t have enough terrain change to significantly disrupt Matthew’s circulation…in fact, Matthew’s central pressure has been falling this morning, a sign that the storm is strengthening.

The National Hurricane Center’s official forecast path calls for Matthew to make landfall tonight, between West Palm Beach and Fort St. Lucie on the east coast of Florida, as a Category-4 storm with 145 mph sustained winds.  The storm then tracks north, parallel to the coast, throughout the day Friday:
The fact that it runs along the coast, rather than moving inland, means that Matthew will remain stronger for a longer period of time, compared to an “average” landfalling hurricane.

The latest radar simulation from the HRRR forecast model shows good agreement with the NHC’s landfall scenario:
The strong winds will produce a significant storm surge to the north and east of the eye, as ocean water is pushed onshore — current forecasts are for a 4 to 8 foot storm surge.  On top of that, rainfall amounts along the Florida coast will be in the 4″-10″ range:
That’s WAY too much for a state that’s prone to flooding anyway.

If you have family or friends who live along the Florida coast, from West Palm Beach all the way up to Daytona Beach, I hope they’ve heeded official orders to evacuate.  If they haven’t, now’s the time to get in touch and talk some sense into them.  There’s a tendency for Floridians to tough it out with a “well, we’ve seen hurricanes before” mentality.  The thing is though, this particular part of Florida HASN’T seen a hurricane like this:
Really, all you need to do is read the text of the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Warning for the Melbourne area, which ranks among the most-terrifying things I’ve read in my career:


The various forecast models are in good agreement regarding Matthew’s track over the next 60-72 hours, bringing a weaker-but-still potent storm along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts through Saturday night:
After that…the model data goes to the zoo.  Does it get picked up by the larger-scale weather pattern and pushed out into the Atlantic, or does it curve back to the south and make a second (weaker) pass through the Bahamas and toward Florida?
That part will come into better focus once we know how the storm interacts with land tomorrow (how’s THAT for a benign phrase describing absolute chaos?).


About paulheggen33

Morning meteorologist for WNCN-TV in Raleigh.
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