Hurricane Matthew threatens Florida

  • National Hurricane Centre track of Matthew. Source: NOAA

    Visible Satellite Image of Hurricane Matthew on its track through the Bahamas on Thursday. Source: NOAA

    Predicted rainfall totals from Hurricane Matthew from 00z Thursday to 00z Monday, as per ECMWF. Source: MeteoGroup

  • Hurricane Matthew threatens Florida
    06.10.2016 15:34

    Hurricane Matthew has left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean since its formation over a week ago. On Tuesday, it became the first category 4 system to strike Haiti in 52 years on landfall over the western Tiburon Peninsula. Winds of 145mph, flooding rains and a significant storm surge destroyed thousands of homes, ruined plantations and left at least 23 people dead, with the country facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

    Having weakened slightly after its brush with Haiti and Cuba, Matthew is once again gathering strength as it tracks north-westwards across the Bahamas, being fuelled by warm seas and favourable environmental conditions. As of Thursday morning, the centre of the system was reported to be just 30 miles of the capital Nassau, home to over 250,000 people. People were evacuated from the outer islands ahead of the storm’s arrival with airports and government offices closed.

    After battering the Bahamas, Matthew will approach Florida through Thursday night and regain category 4 status with peak winds of 145mph. The system will then track northwards parallel to Florida’s populated east coast, although with uncertainties as to whether the centre will move ashore. A slight westward shift in the expected to track could bring the most damaging winds around the eyewall over the land, resulting in even greater devastation. If Matthew does make landfall, it will be the first major hurricane to strike the United States since Wilma in 2005. Over the weekend, the threat of the high winds and heavy rain will transfer north to the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas, despite the system expected to undergo some weakening. States of emergency have been declared from Florida to North Carolina with more than 2 million people urged to evacuate.

    Another Atlantic system, Tropical Storm Nicole has also recently developed to the east of Matthew. Nicole is not currently expected to pose a threat to land, however, and should weaken over the next few days on its erratic path south of Bermuda.

    By: Billy Payne