Next Few Hours are Key as Matthew Moves Toward Florida
Hurricane Matthew continues to move northwestward through the Bahamas at about 14 mph as a Category 4 storm with max sustained winds of 140 mph. Around the core, winds are gusting closer to 200 mph! The east coast of Florida is next in line to experience the effects of this very dangerous hurricane.
The next few hours will be key for residents from South Florida to the Space Coast, as a small wobble of 10 or even 20 miles in the hurricane’s track could make a huge difference in the amount of destruction seen.
A few things we are keeping our eyes on include: Matthew’s intensification since last night, the eyewall replacement cycle, and the hurricane’s potential ‘steps’ as it moves closer to Florida.
Since last night, Matthew underwent rapid intensification. Pressures dropped more than 20 millibars in 12 hours, and sustained winds increased 35 mph from Category 3 to Category 4 strength. In the last few hours, there has been little change in pressure, so it is unlikely that the winds will increase more in the short term.
Over the next 8-12 hours, it is likely that an eyewall replacement cycle will occur, which is common in most major hurricanes. The core around the eye would contract causing the outer rain bands to strengthen and form a new eyewall. At this time, the winds of the hurricane would actually diminish because some energy would be transferred to the newly forming core. If the eyewall replacement happens closer to the Florida coast, this could potentially reduce some of the wind damage. But, if this occurs further offshore, some intensification could happen as Matthew approaches the coast.
And finally, another small scale factor we are continuing to monitor is the possibility that Matthew will ‘step’ instead of move in a straight line. For instance, the storm could ‘step’ north 10 miles and then ‘step’ to the west. These minor changes in the track could impact who sees the worst of Hurricane Matthew.
With all of these things potentially impacting where Matthew’s effects are felt the greatest, it is very important that anyone living on the east coast of Florida take all the necessary precautions including following any evacuation orders. Stay tuned to local media for the very latest and follow us on Twitter for updates.