Tropical Storm Matthew

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  • The official National Hurricane Centre (NHC) track for Tropical Storm Matthew. Matthew is expected to track gradually westward across the Caribbean Sea over the next few days before taking a sharp northerly turn later this weekend.

    The latest visible satellite image of TS Matthew as it tracks gradually westwards across the Caribbean Sea.

    Forecast chart for next Wednesday illustrating Matthew tracking north in the Atlantic Ocean towards the eastern United States.

  • Tropical Storm Matthew
    29.09.2016 13:43

    Tropical Storm Matthew formed last night (28th September 2016) just to the east of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. Tropical Storm force winds were experienced on the islands with heavy rain and thunderstorms.

     

    Matthew is now tracking steadily westward across the Caribbean Sea and is expected to pass to the north of Aruba tomorrow. The system is forecast to undergo intensification in the coming days as it encounters increasingly favourable environmental conditions. Model consensus and the latest reconnaissance from Hurricane Hunter data indicate Matthew will soon become a hurricane. 

    What is a Hurricane Hunter?

    A hurricane hunter is an air-craft that flies into tropical disturbances in the North Atlantic and North-eastern Pacific in order to gather weather data and further information regarding the weather system. Hurricane Hunters have been investigating tropical disturbances since 1943. Whilst satellite data has greatly improved the ability to forecast tropical cyclones path and intensity over the last several decades it still remains difficult to accurately assess a cyclone’s wind-speed and central barometric pressure. Data retrieved by the Hurricane Hunter can greatly improve numerical weather models prediction of the track and intensity of tropical systems.

    Matthew is forecast to slow down its forward speed over the next 72 hours as it approaches the western end of an upper level ridge (area of high pressure at upper levels in atmosphere). There is then a large degree of uncertainty in the track Matthew will take. However, it is expected the system will track northwards and approach Cuba, Haiti or Jamaica early next week. By this point Matthew has the potential to become a powerful Category 2 or 3 Hurricane with sustained winds in excess of 100mph.

    If Matthew can attain Category 3 intensity it will be described as major hurricane. A category 3 storm has the potential to cause structural damage to homes and businesses, particularly those build with wood. It can also cause severe damage to structures without a solid foundation, such as mobile homes. Widespread flooding is likely and widespread power failure can be expected. Caribbean states such as Haiti and Cuba are particularly vulnerable to strong tropical cyclones as the build quality of infrastructure is often poor.

    Beyond early next week Matthew may pose a threat to the United States as it takes a northerly track and increases its forward speed. There remains a large variance in forecast track next week but Matthew is likely to pose a significant threat to parts of the US and interests in the region should pay close attention to official forecasts over the next several days.

    By: Matthew Martin