Yesterday morning there was some pretty good model agreement when it came to hurricane Matthew. They mostly brought the storm up along the coast of North Carolina and through part of the viewing area. Then yesterday evening there were a couple of models which strayed from the pack. The started to show some odd behavior as they began to show more of a loop rather than a northeast zoom. Eventually more and more models started to show this solution. I talked with the other meteorologists about the European update. I mentioned that it might be on to something. So while I knew there were going to be some changes this morning. I was amazed to see that most of the models and the forecast track had made such a huge shift.
In the short-term Matthew has moved north of Cuba. Reports are starting to come in from Cuba and Haiti which were both hit by the hurricane. There will be more information coming in from those areas today as communications will be restored. Now Matthew is starting to impact the southern Bahama islands with tropical storm force winds.
Matthew looked like it weakened on Satellite. The eye has filled in.
Officially the storm did weaken overnight. I think some of the interaction with Cuba had that effect. However, it is still a major hurricane. Winds were estimated at 115mph. That makes it a category 3 hurricane. It is moving north/northwest at 10mph. The pressure did come up to 962mb (millibars). That is up from 934mb yesterday. Despite the recent weakening, the forecast is not good for the Bahamas. Matthew is predicted to be a category 3 or 4 hurricane as it moves northwest through that region today. Some interaction with the islands could weaken the storm a bit, but there’s not much land to impact the storm. So it could remain a major hurricane as it heads for Florida on Friday.
It may make landfall over Florida. The track is very close to the coast. It may skirt Cape Canaveral. Either way, it is then forecast to move northward and then northeast into Saturday. However, the upper level trough that was supposed to swoop in and pick up Matthew looks a lot weaker now. This is why the models have shifted their track so far to the south. Since the models showed the dramatic change, the official track has also shifted south. Take a look:
So the most likely path (center line above) has it over 100 miles southwest of Hatteras by Sunday evening, and then about 100+ miles southeast of Hatteras by Monday morning. How Dramatic is that? Well by 2am on Monday in yesterday’s forecast Matthew was predicted to already be east of New Jersey. (deadpan stare).
Here are some of the models behind the forecast:
Notice how many of them curve Matthew to the southeast and then south. The 2 global models (GFS and European) also have the hurricane making this loop:
So this is good news for Hampton Roads. It’s good news for our region. But I don’t want folks to get too comfortable just yet. Since there was a huge change in the models, it’s possible that they can have another wild swing. Also, even though it looks like it will pass south of the region, there could still be some big impacts over the Outer Banks. Moderate tidal flooding is still possible there, and possibly major depending on how much water can flow north of the system. The rain forecast looks a lot better for everybody. Yesterday, the estimates coming in were between 4 and 8 inches. Now I think it’s closer to 1-2″ for much of the region. Possibly higher amounts south of the Albemarle sound in North Carolina.
This rain forecast could also abruptly change depending on the track of Matthew. Hampton Roads may still see some tidal flooding this weekend. Keep in mind that an area of high pressure will be to our north. Between that area and Matthew to the south there will be some persistent northeasterly winds. We have already had some of that recently due to the high itself. This is leading to some nuisance to minor tidal flooding over the next couple of days.
By the weekend the winds will probably increase a bit over southeast Virginia, and this could increase the levels to moderate.
So again. We aren’t completely out of the woods. Don’t write this system off yet. However, the trend is very good for our area, and there may be only minor impacts on the Hampton Roads region this weekend.
Before I go…there is another tropical storm out there (Nicole). It is a few hundred miles east of the Bahamas. It is forecast to stay out to sea. It may get close to Bermuda, but it is not in our forecast. It could interact with Matthew for a bit, but I don’t think it will fully merge with it.
That’s a lot of info. We’ll have an update later today. Hopefully, not as manic as this morning’s.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler