Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Matthew, Slamming Bahamas, Targets Florida, South Carolina

Hurricane Matthew, with its eye over Haiti
early Tuesday, looks like a horrible sinister
face in this undoctored satellite image.  
Reports are still sketchy from Haiti after Category 4 Hurricane Matthew slammed that impoverished nation with winds of up to 145 mph and feet of rain.

However, I'm afraid we might ended up hearing of a high death toll, but I could be wrong. I hope I AM wrong.

The New York Times reports massive devastation in Haiti, with crops ruined, houses blown away and terrible flooding.

The Times' reports are still understandably sketchy, as it takes days for word to get out after a disaster like this.

However, humanitarian groups said since crops are destroyed, hunger will be a growing problem in Haiti. Plus, roads, houses and other infrastructure are destroyed, making things worse.

Matthew went over the eastern end of Cuba late Tuesday, and the mountainous terrain there weakened it somewhat. Top wind speeds in Matthew were "only" 125 mph as of early Wednesday morning.

The hurricane is going over very warm water now, and upper level winds are light, so chances are it could restrengthen. 

Which, of course, is bad for Florida. And probably the Carolinas. Matthew, as you might have heard, is expected to parallel Florida's east coast. It might or might not make landfall in Florida, and that will determine how bad things get down there.

If it stays offshore, there will be gusts to hurricane force, torrential rains and very bad beach erosion. That sounds terrible, but if it comes ashore, it will be much worse, with major hurricane winds and even more extreme destruction.

Same goes for the Carolinas if it manages to come ashore there.

NBC News and other news outlets say that people are preparing for this by stocking up on supplies to get them through what might be very long power failures.

A man pushes a bicycle through the flooded wreckage of
Les Cayes, Haiti Tuesday. Photo by Andres
Martinez Casares/Reuters.  
Shelves at places like Walmart throughout the region of have been stripped bare of bottled water, canned food and batteries.  Long lines of cars are at gas stations, their owners trying to fill up.

Possibly millions of people are on alert for possible evacuations.

Some are already leaving. A million people have been told to leave in coastal South Carolina. Hotels are already booked inland, for example in the central South Carolina city of Columbia, which is away from the coast.

It's looking less likely that Matthew will affect the Northeast, though that can't be ruled out. Most forecasters thought an incoming frontal system would pick up Matthew and pull it toward New England.

Now it looks like that weather front won't be strong enough to pull Matthew north, so it's becoming increasingly likely that it will head east out ot sea once it's done with North Carolina.

However, we still might be talking about Matthew for awhile. Though this is very, very iffy, some forecasts pull Matthew out over the Gulf Stream, where it could take advantage of very warm water and restrengthen (depending upon whether upper level winds are favorable) It could even loop back towards the United States in about a week or more, but that idea, as I said, is just speculation at this point.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Nicole has formed well to the northeast of Matthew over the open Atlantic.

At this point, it looks like Nicole will meander in the open waters south of Bermuda without ever becoming super strong. It's unlikely to get strong enough to become a hurricane.  However, Nicole might somehow influence the path of Matthew, possibly making the hurricane do strange turns or even loops. We'll see.

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