Hurricane Matthew remains a major hurricane producing sustained winds of 125mph and is moving toward the Northwest. The eye this morning is near Andros Island in the Bahamas.
Matthew is the most powerful hurricane to form over the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007. Rain bands are already impacting Florida and the rain will become more widespread later this afternoon and evening for South and Central Florida. Hurricane warnings are in effect from Fort Lauderdale to Savannah, GA. Most forecast models show the storm tracking along the east coast of Florida or possibly slightly inland. The good news for Florida is the worst of the storm will remain offshore.
The GFS model is in agreement with the National Hurricane Center Track. The higher resolution models keep the storm a bit farther offshore. This is the GFS output for around midnight placing the eye just off the coast between Vero and West Palm Beach.
The combination of a hurricane's forward motion and the counterclockwise rotation always makes the east side of the worst for wind damage. Florida is NOT on this side. Still - we will likely see winds from West Palm Beach northward to St. Augustine peak at 100mph. On average, winds will likely range between 60-80mph along the Florida coast. These are the primary impacts for Florida.
- Wind damage along the coast (including West Palm Beach, Vero Beach, Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, and northward to St. Augustine)
- Worst weather is expected from 10pm Thursday until Noon Friday.
- Significant flooding along the coast
- We could see winds between 40 and 60mph inland in places like Orlando and Lakeland
- Minimal impacts along Florida's west coast.
The National Hurricane Center is showing the highest probability of winds greater than 58mph between Fort Lauderdale and Cocoa Beach through 2am tomorrow.
What happens next? A trough of low pressure is forecast to steer the storm northeast. This will eventually take the track a bit farther out in the Atlantic. We're still watching for significant impacts this weekend for Savannah, GA, Hilton Head, SC, and Charleston. If you have travel plans this weekend to Florida, the weather will have improved significantly with mostly sunny skies expected Saturday and Sunday.
This is a powerful storm to watch and will likely result in significant damage for parts of Florida. We are seeing no impacts (other than breezy conditions) if you have plans to visit Panama City or Destin, Florida.
Make sure you have the WBRC First Alert weather app for updates. It has an excellent tropical track feature.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist