- Matthew is very powerful category 4 hurricane 390 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica and the second major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
- No one – I mean NO one forecasted Matthew to rapidly intensifying into a category 5 Hurricane yesterday. This just goes to show how much work still needs to be done in the science of tropical cyclone forecasting especially for intensity.
- Matthew has ended a 9-yr drought between category 5 hurricanes. The last category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic was Hurricane Felix. It should be noted that this was the longest period in-between Atlantic Category 5 hurricanes since the period between the 1938 New England hurricane to 1953 hurricane Carol. Another interesting fact is that Matthew was at category 5 about 30 miles from where Felix was a category 5.
- Matthew should level off in terms of intensity, but a strong major hurricane is still expected as Matthew turns northward.
- Beyond the five days forecast, models are trending east or west with every other run. Its a bit of back and fourth at this point. However, I can finally provide a few ideas on landfall scenarios. There is currently a 35% probability of US landfall during the course of Matthew’s trek north and a 65% likelihood of staying out to sea beyond the Bahamas. It should be noted that the forecast is still complicated.
Next Few Days
As predicted all week today is the day that Matthew should start to take a right turn and move into the central Caribbean. This will then help determine where and when Matthew tracks along the eastern U.S. seaboard. While many details remain unresolved in regards to Matthew’s future track, there are still indications that Matthew could impact the northeastern states at significant amplitude sometime between October 10-12. The purpose of this blog is not to HYPE but rather show an objective model analysis to illustrate risk and give all scenarios that are on the table at this time.
The National Hurricane Center is still showing Matthew make a right turn and track over the weekend as a Category 3 major hurricane, which increases the risk for significant impacts across areas including Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti from the south which is a bit rare direction for a hit for these islands This could increase wind loss given most building / trees have not seen this unique wind direction. Storm surge could also be an issue in some of the southern bays which usually don’t see a storm from this direction.
Matthew will likely weaken as it crosses Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, where intensities should drop to a Category 2 hurricane. After this one might notice that the latest NHC forecast now expect Matthew to be a major hurricane in the Bahamas.
There is no reason why Matthew should not be a major hurricane as it track northward north of the Bahamas as it feeds off the above normal sea surface temperatures here.
East Coast Scenarios
Florida landfall is still on the table but at a lower probability at this time. However, this would be a decent insurance industry loss event as category 2 maybe category 3 impacts.
Matthew impacts Bahamas as a major hurricane and with a northward movement that could allow for an initial landfall across North Carolina’s Outer Banks sometime late next week or weekend (looking like Saturday, October 8) as a category 3 or 4 major hurricane, though the storm could also stay just offshore. From there models show a northward track toward the northeastern states.
The most likely scenario at this time is the “Out to Sea” and no impact to the East Coast of the U.S.. Of course this would be the best scenario for insurance company.
Worst Case Scenario
Last night run of the American GFS model surely takes home the award for the worst case scenario so far of all the model runs I have seen. (Again not HYPE and just one model solution of many and this one scenario is highly unlikely at this time)
The select sequence of this model runs below would rival the immortal hurricane Donna of 1960. In this scenario Matthew would do the unbelievable and allow hurricane force winds in every state from Florida to New England as Matthew tracks just off shore.
Again this scenario is one of many and highly unlikely. The ECMWF ensembles model is more off shore today but overall the forecast is complicated next week. The newest 06z GFS ensembles are east of the worst case scenario shown above.
Above is the latest ECMWF model track guidance from the ensemble forecast
Above is the latest GFS model track guidance from the ensemble forecast
It should also be noted that the ECMWF has been performing better than the GFS thus far with Matthew.
Based on the current model guidance there is currently a 35% probability of US landfall during the course of Matthew’s trek north and a 65% likelihood of staying out to sea beyond the Bahamas. It should be noted to keep this short I have not explained why this is still complicated forecast. There are a lot of moving parts and more will be known today once Matthew takes that turn north and we get an ideas of the forward speed north.