Saturday, October 1, 2016

Incredible Hurricane Matthew Enormous Threat To Jamaica, Cuba; U.S. Uncertain

Intense Hurricane Matthew with a tiny eye common
in super strong tropical systems, is seen her over the
Caribbean Sea Friday.  
As you might have heard on the news, Hurricane Matthew unexpectedly blew up to become a borderline Category 4 or 5 hurricane in the Caribbean on Friday.

It is an enormous,disastrous threat to Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti, as it's still forecast to turn north toward those islands.

Jamaica is so under the gun and I fear for the people who live there. As of this morning, Matthew's sustained winds were 155 mph with higher gusts.

I suppose Matthew might weaken a bit by the time it gets to Jamaica, but its winds are strong enough to trash substantial, well constructed buildings, let alone flimsier structures common in that island nation.

The National Hurricane Center says rainfall on Jamaica will run in the 10 to 15 inch range, with local amounts to 25 mph. This will cause extreme flash flooding and mudslides.

One ray of hope is latest forecast tracks are hinting that Matthew might want to track east of Jamaica rather than over it. Which would slightly lessen the destruction on Jamaica. But unfortunately, this shift could make things worse in eastern Cuba and especially poverty stricken Haiti.

Unfortunately, a Category 4 or 5 storm hitting Haiti might be even worse than such a storm hitting Jamaica in terms of loss of life and destruction.

Matthew is so far ranging that dangerous ocean swells and waves are forecast from Puerto Rico to Venezuela.

So far, forecasters have been able to get Matthew's path through the Caribbean pretty much right, but forecasts for Matthew's incredible wind speeds were way off. Peak winds in Matthew reached 160 mph late Friday, they were at least 60 mph more than forecast.

Matthew intensified at a rate faster that all but two hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic basin. (Wilma in 2005 and Felix in 2007). This despite wind shear, those strong upper level winds that almost always temper a hurricane's strength.

I think record high sea temperatures in Matthew's path fed this beast.  Shear is getting stronger again over Matthew, at least temporarily, so it might weaken a bit today.

In fact, it might already be weakening a little. Matthew looked more ragged in satellite images this morning than it did yesterday.

But those upper level winds might slacken as Matthew approaches Jamaica later Sunday, so it might strengthen again.

After passing over or near Jamaica, Matthew will probably go over eastern Cuba, causing a big mess there. Then it will head into the Bahamas.

Matthew's passage over land in Cuba will have weakened it some, but it will still be a formidable monster.

People along the East Coast of the United States should keep monitoring this thing. A couple computer models yesterday had Matthew slamming into New England, which would potentially represent a rerun of the 1938 hurricane, which was the worst such storm to hit New England on record.

Many other computer models had Matthew reassuringly staying off the coast. This morning, more of the computer forecasting models are trending Matthew further east, which is certainly encouraging for the East Coast.

However, forecasts for hurricanes days in advance are notoriously tricky, so I'd keep an eye on this thing if you live anywhere in the East.  It all depends upon how Matthew interacts with storm systems over the North American continent this week.k

While you're at it, pray for Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.

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