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Could Hurricane Matthew pose a threat to the East Coast - and the tri-state area?

The National Hurricane Center said Matthew — previously a tropical storm — now has top sustained winds of 100 mph as of Friday morning. It is moving westward at 17 mph and is centered about 190 miles northeast of the island of Curacao.

The storm is expected to climb up the eastern seaboard but as rain will continue to pummel the New York area this week, forecasters say it is too soon to tell if it will gain momentum or move out to sea.

Matthew passed over the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday, causing at least one death.

The forecast continues to show Matthew moving west through Saturday before it takes a turn to the north and head toward Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba. As it approaches the region on Monday, there is a potential for the winds top out at around 125 mph making it a Category 2 hurricane.

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A tropical storm watch is in effect for Curacao and the islands of Bonaire and Aruba. People across the three Dutch Caribbean islands were stocking up on fuel and other emergency supplies Thursday ahead of the storm.

Computer models show the storm taking a hard right (northerly) turn and traveling up the eastern seaboard, right to NJ and NYC.  But models are not carved in stone and a LOT can change over the next 7-10 days.

New Jersey and New York City residents are strongly advised to keep close watch on the storm track over the next few days.

The last time an October Hurricane struck the NJ/NYC area was in the year 1894.  So it HAS happened in the past . . .  and can  happen again.


Matthew Becomes the First Atlantic Category Five in Nine Years; Significant Threat to Some Land

General Discussion:

Hurricane Matthew has intensified much faster than anticipated over the last two days, and as of Friday evening became a category 5 hurricane. This is the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007. Matthew has begun slowing and will make the much anticipated northward turn Saturday night into Sunday. This turn will take Matthew over or near Jamaica Sunday night into Monday.

Fluctuations in intensity are likely over the weekend, but Matthew will be at least a category 3 hurricane as it makes its closest approach to Jamaica; the potentially for life threatening flash flooding/mudslides, storm surge flooding, and significant wind damage is increasing on Jamaica. Jamaica may cause Matthew to lose some intensity, but Matthew is still expected to be at least a category 3 hurricane Monday night into Tuesday as it moves into eastern Cuba. Again, a significant risk for life threatening inland flooding, storm surge flooding, and destructive wind damage will accompany Matthew over eastern Cuba. Haiti may also see gusty winds and very dangerous inland flooding; a slight jog east in Matthew’s track could bring devastating hurricane conditions to Haiti as well.

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After moving over Cuba, Matthew will move north-northwest into the Bahamas on Tuesday and slowly move north across the island chain. Cuba’s higher terrain will weaken Matthew, but a favorable environment for re-intensification looks to exist over the Bahamas, so Matthew will certainly be a hurricane and potentially re-intensify into a major hurricane as it passes over the Bahamas through mid-week.

The track after hitting the Bahamas and future threat to land…including the US East Coast from Florida to New England is highly uncertain. It is possible that Matthew even drifts near or over the Bahamas for a few days. Interests in a large swath of real-estate along the East Coast need to continue to monitor the progress of Matthew.

Please check forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, your local Weather Service office, and heed advice of Emergency Management officials when making hurricane-related decisions.

Meteorological Discussion:


From a tropical storm with a nearly exposed low level circulation Wednesday morning to a category 5 hurricane Friday evening; Matthew’s transformation in the face of some weak to moderate shear and perhaps a little bit of dry air in the general vicinity of the hurricane has been nothing short of impressive. Friday afternoon saw a small eye emerge, with the eye warming to warmer than 0C with a solid ring of very cold cloud tops surrounding it by Friday evening; this was all indicative of a rapidly intensifying hurricane that did in fact max out the Saffir-Simpson scale.


This intensification was completely unexpected to me when I last posted Wednesday evening; I thought that some shear and dry air would at least slow inner core development/organization through Friday, with potentially rapid intensification at some point over the weekend. Sometimes in sheared tropical cyclones, convection firing and rotating up-shear of the center can offset wind shear and allow for intensification. This occurred here, and an otherwise favorable thermodynamic environment for persistent and very deep convection allowed Matthew to go “all the way.”


Unfortunately, there aren’t any recent microwave images as of this writing to further diagnose the current condition of Matthew; however, there is recon. Usually, these very strong tropical cyclones with tight inner cores are living on borrowed time; it’s inevitable that a larger outer eyewall will eventually form and choke off the much smaller and more intense inner eyewall.

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This usually results in the system seeing its maximum wind speeds decrease, its pressure increase, but its radius of max winds expands; this is commonly known as an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC). Data from the most recon flight into Matthew is beginning to indicate a secondary wind maximum well away from the very tight inner core. Although this isn’t yet an outer/secondary eyewall, and the inner core is still very much alive and well, this signals that an ERC will probably occur within the next 12-24 hours…or by Saturday night.

Although it’s possible that Matthew intensifies a bit further before the ERC begins, signs Friday evening are pointing to the intensification leveling off; the eye has begun cooling on IR satellite imagery, and the pressure drop during the last recon mission started to slow. My guess is that Matthew sits at borderline cat 4/5 status through Saturday, before weakening to borderline cat 3 or 4 status Saturday night into Sunday as an eyewall replacement happens.

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