Saturday, October 8, 2016

Maybe Matthew Was (Almost) As Bad As People Feared

Wreckage in Daytona Beach, Florida after Matthew.  

Hurricane Matthew is beginning to turn into an extratropical storm, as opposed to a hurricane, and that's bad for North Carolina in particular.

When this kind of thing happens along the coast, the heaviest rains usually fall northwest of the center. That's where North Carolina is.

And these rains during a transitioning storm are often horribly torrential. As is the case today.

A good foot of rain or more is likely to fall on parts of South Carolina eastern North Carolina. Rainfall rates are as high as four inches per hour in the state this afternoon.

What we have, then, is another extreme flash flood disaster. Just like South Carolina had last October. And numerous locations in the United States and around the world are having with increasing frequency.

The ironic thing is the worst U.S. damage from Hurricane Matthew might be coming this afternoon, when winds are falling below hurricane strength.

It's EXTREMELY dangerous in North Carolina now. If you are in that area, don't travel unless you must evacuate, or have been told to evacuate by local emergency managers.


There was a whiff of complaining yesterday as Hurricane Matthew decided not to barrel into Florida with destructive force, but instead paralleled the coast, causing plenty of misery but not apocalyptic ruin in any one place.

I'm not sure what people were whining about. It's a good thing it wasn't worse. I guess they're saying that the warnings were overblown.

But all along, forecasters said the storm might stay offshore, lessening the damage. They always say, plan for worst case and hope for the best.

The worst case didn't happen, but what did happen wasn't the best.

Matthew will still be one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, not because it devastated any one city, but because it caused damage in a long stretch of heavily populated coastline.

As I wrote this at 7 a.m. EDT Saturday, Matthew's eye wall was in Charleston, South Carolina, causing wind damage, and worse, a damaging storm surge.  The storm eventually made landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina late Saturday morning.

Matthew's storm surge has been causing most of the damage. (See videos of the surge at the bottom of this post.)

Cities like Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Savannah have all suffered storm surge flooding from Matthew. That's a lot of businesses, homes, cars and other property that's been damaged.
This car floated out of a driveway in St. Augustine, Florida during
Matthew's storm surge. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images 

Add to that the wind damage in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina: Roofing stripped from houses, trees falling and crashing into buildings, power lines shredded, windows busted out, siding peeled away.

So far at least five people have died in the United States from Matthew's effects. The death toll down in Haiti is soaring, up past 800 at last check. This is truly a terrible disaster.

Matthew will continue along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts today, creating more destructive storm surges inland flooding and wind damage

Videos: First is a view from a Jacksonville high rise of the storm surge engulfing that city:

Here is a security camera view from inside a Florida home as a storm surge smacks into it. The occupants of the home had wisely evacuated before the storm:

Next up, a storm surge view from inside a St. Augustine, Florida bed and breakfast:

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