Summary

  • Tropical Storm Matthew is very close to becoming a major hurricane as it is 495 mile southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Matthew has intensified over the last 24 hr.    This was not forecasted to occur given the storm is still undergoing 20 kts of southerly wind shear.   Matthew is defying the odds and feeding off the warm Caribbean Sea waters we have talked about.
  • We have seen the NHC shift their track westward closer to Jamaica and they now have Matthew as it hits Jamaica.
  • The NHC still does not have Matthew as a major hurricane impacting the Bahamas.  I think they will change this guidance upward with a major hurricane in the Bahamas middle of next week.
  • The NHC cone of uncertainty is now closer to Florida so a Florida landfalling hurricane cannot be ruled out in the middle of next week.

What has changed in last 24 hrs

Matthew has intensified steadily over the last 24 hours and is very close to becoming a major hurricane. This is a bit of a chance in forecast as this increased intensity was not supposed to happen until it turned northward.  The idea that Matthew will be a major hurricane as it turns north toward Jamaica and Haiti is now in the NHC forecast guidance and along the thinking of yesterday BMS tropical update.   Matthew could still weaken due to interaction of the high mountains of Jamaica and Cuba on its way northward on Tuesday next week.  However, Matthew should rapidly regain its strength as a major hurricane over the Bahamas on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

Over the last several days we have seen the NHC track guidance shift westward.  It would appear this shift westward in track will now start to be consistent with a major hurricane hitting Jamaica.   What makes this interesting is very few major hurricanes in history have hit Jamaica from a southern direction so this could increase the insured loss on the island given an unusual wind direction for a major hurricane.

930matthewhistoricaltracks

The NHC forecast brings Matthew near Jamaica as a major hurricane. Here’s the tropical systems to pass/hit Jamaica at Major Hurricane intensity. Interestingly, almost all of these tracks are more east-to-west vs. the expected south-to-north path that Matthew looks to take.

The ideas of Matthew weakening slightly due to the higher terrain of Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti is still on the table but I expect Matthew to rapidly strengthen again as it moves over the Bahamas on Wednesday next week.

Long Range Track Guidance Uncertainty

There are many possibilities that remain in play and there is not enough information to make a skillful assessment of ultimate outcomes at this time.  Possibilities are wide ranging from a track into southern Florida, an East Coast US landfall or even potentially out to sea into the Atlantic.  Over the past 24 hours there is some shift away from the Gulf of Mexico scenario and more towards a Florida US landfall or out to the Atlantic.

 

In terms of specific impacts north of the Caribbean, it’s too early to speculate on ultimate outcomes with Matthew until more information is available to make a skillful forecast.

In general the forecast models have still been shifting westward and the NHC has the edge of “cone” now grazing South Florida.

As we go into the weekend my general thoughts of Matthew impacting points along the Northeast coast later next week have to do with what the forward speed of Matthew might be once it starts it turn northward.  This will need to be watched very carefully.   The faster it comes north the better the chance it can reach the North Carolina coast before turning out to sea. If Matthew is slower coming out of the Caribbean it would likely have a better chance to be turned out to sea.  Also in the long range the option of turning out to sea is greater given the upper level pattern in the image I have provided below you will see the ridge (orange red colors)  is in a southwest – northeast direction as opposed to a northwest southeast direction which leave an option for Matthew with a way out to sea vs turning back into the northeast similar to Hazel and Sandy which had a different ridge configuration.

930matthewupperairpattern