Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew To Cause Major Damage in Florida

It has been just short of eleven years since a major (cat. 3 or stronger winds) has made landfall in the United States. I fear our streak of good luck is about to end. 

Meteorology Discussion

Skip this if you are not interested. 

Matthew has become quite a bit better organized during the last six hours. The difference over the past four hours is dramatic. The bottom picture, from 4:15pm CDT shows much more dark (colder) clouds wrapping around the center. There is still some dry air on the southwest side of the storm (lighter red colors) but I believe it will probably fill in with time and then the rate of intensification will increase.

The Forecast

Below is roughly what the hurricane should look like at about noon EDT tomorrow (Thursday). 
The wind distribution can be viewed by comparing the colors to the legend at the bottom (click to enlarge). 

Here is a sequence of images from the U.S. GFS model (courtesy Dr. Ryan Maue) showing Matthew coming inland near West Palm Beach and moving up the easternmost row of counties and then back out to sea near Jacksonville. The wind speeds should be considered an approximation as the computer models are not able to resolve every detail. 

One of the NWS offices in the path of Matthew has described the potential damage as "catastrophic." They would know better than I about building codes, etc., in their area. What I am saying is that local evacuation orders and similar information should be followed. This is a dangerous storm and you should plan accordingly. 

As to what may occur north of the Florida-Georgia border, here is the forecast for 6pm Saturday. Hurricane force winds are forecast into coast South Carolina. A hurricane watch is in effect as far north as Savannah. 
In addition to the winds, the computer models are showing waves up to 40' just offshore. There will be a major storm surge. If you are along the immediate coast, you need to follow the evacuation orders and get out!

Safety Rules

Scroll down to the next post. Obviously, if you are planning to fly the rest of this week to the Florida east coast airports (MIA to JAX), you should probably cancel your flight if the airline hasn't done so already. I would do the same if I was planning to fly to Orlando. 

Global Warming

I have no doubt ClimateNexus, Climate Central and the usual suspects are writing press releases that will be timed for release to coincide with the worst damage photos from the storm. Those press releases will find some reason to blame global warming; probably to attempt to influence the election. 

Here is where the real focus should be: We have been extremely fortunate over the last eleven years to have dodged many meteorological bullets during that time. I suggest we be thankful for that ten years of relative hurricane calm. 

To the residents of Florida and Georgia: I wish you the very best getting through this and you are in my, and my families, prayers.

1 comment:

  1. To this Kansas transplant, preparing for a hurricane is a whole different experience. The lines at the gas station and grocery are incredible, but people are mostly polite and generous. We purchased water, food, and gasoline a couple days ago so we got to avoid the lines. We live southwest of Orlando. This will be an interesting couple of days.