Overnight Hurricane Matthew began its expected intensification - a process forecast to continue for the next 24 hours - and is now a very strong Cat 3 storm and likely to reach Cat 4 status before making landfall.
It projected path, parallel to the coast from near Vero Beach to north of Jacksonville is a nightmare scenario for residents and emergency planners alike.
While many hurricanes fail to match their pre-arrival hype, Matthew shows every sign of meeting - or exceeding - all expectations. No one should take this storm lightly or attempt to ride out this storm in an evacuation zone.
Blunt warnings issued by the National Weather Service overnight include:
PROTECT AGAINST LIFE-THREATENING WIND HAVING POSSIBLE DEVASTATING IMPACTS ACROSS ALL OF EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA. POTENTIAL IMPACTS IN THIS AREA INCLUDE:
- STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO STURDY BUILDINGS, SOME WITH COMPLETE ROOF AND WALL FAILURES. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF MOBILE HOMES. DAMAGE GREATLY ACCENTUATED BY LARGE AIRBORNE PROJECTILES. LOCATIONS MAY BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS OR MONTHS.
- NUMEROUS LARGE TREES SNAPPED OR UPROOTED ALONG WITH FENCES AND ROADWAY SIGNS BLOWN OVER.
- MANY ROADS IMPASSABLE FROM LARGE DEBRIS, AND MORE WITHIN URBAN OR HEAVILY WOODED PLACES. MANY BRIDGES, CAUSEWAYS, AND ACCESS ROUTES IMPASSABLE.
- WIDESPREAD POWER AND COMMUNICATIONS OUTAGES.
From the 5am Discussion by the National Hurricane Center:
1. Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, and heavy rains in the central and northwestern Bahamas today, and along portions of the east coast of Florida tonight.
2. When a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do from Florida through South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to specify impacts at any one location. For example, only a small deviation of the track to the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of a major hurricane onshore within the hurricane warning area in Florida and Georgia. However, a small deviation to the right could keep the hurricane-force winds offshore. Similarly large variations in impacts are possible in the hurricane watch area in northeast Georgia and South Carolina.
3. Tropical storm or hurricane conditions could affect eastern North Carolina later this week or this weekend, even if the center of Matthew remains offshore.
4. The National Hurricane Center is issuing Potential Storm Surge Flooding Maps, and Prototype Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphics for Matthew. It is important to remember that the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map does not represent a forecast of expected inundation, but rather depicts a reasonable worst-case scenario - the amount of inundation that has a 10 percent chance of being exceeded. In addition, because the Flooding Map is based on inputs that extend out only to about 72 hours, it best represents the flooding potential in those locations within the watch and warning areas in Florida and Georgia.
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INIT 06/0900Z 24.2N 77.1W 110 KT 125 MPH
12H 06/1800Z 25.5N 78.4W 120 KT 140 MPH
24H 07/0600Z 27.2N 79.9W 125 KT 145 MPH
36H 07/1800Z 29.0N 80.7W 115 KT 130 MPH
48H 08/0600Z 30.7N 80.7W 95 KT 110 MPH
72H 09/0600Z 32.4N 77.6W 80 KT 90 MPH
96H 10/0600Z 31.0N 75.0W 60 KT 70 MPH
120H 11/0600Z 29.5N 75.0W 50 KT 60 MPH