Hurricane Matthew continues to remind us that tropical forecasting is an inexact science. While the storm has (thankfully) trended a bit away from Jamaica, significant impacts are expected there and hurricane conditions will still be possible as far west as Kingston. Further east near western Haiti, a direct strike or very near miss will be possible. Here’s the current visible satellite imagery:
Conditions seems favorable for the storm to maintain intensity with the only obstacle being land. Haiti, Cuba, and possibly Jamaica will be dealing with hurricane impacts over the next day and a half or so.
Beyond that time, great uncertainty exists with guidance changing from run to run. For now, it looks like the storm might pass just east of NE Florida where some areas will experience higher than normal tides, very choppy seas, and gusts reaching tropical storm force. After that time, the model spread is higher, though most guidance now indicates a landfall may be possible. The biggest hold out on a landfall solution is the European model, traditionally our best model. It too, however, has trended way west in its last two runs and now brings near-hurricane conditions to portions of North Carolina.
Here, you can see the trend since yesterday. First is pictured the 18z GEFS (gfs ensembles) from yesterday, followed by the 12z run from today. A significant portion of these ensemble members show an out to sea solution, but at least half show hurricane impacts somewhere along the east coast.
Regarding intensity, the model consensus shows general weakening over time, however the more reliable tropical and global models show the storm maintaining intensity or strengthening a bit after weakening over Cuba.
With most reliable guidance not showing appreciable weakening over time, our intensity forecast is a little higher than the NHC and we currently believe that Matthew will be a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) as it moves nearer the East Coast,
The forecast evolution is complex and involves lots of moving parts. A weakening upper level low over the gulf, a subtropical ridge near Bermuda, a departing upper level low over New England, and an approaching mid-latitude trough will all impart force on the hurricane, pulling it a variety of directions. What remains to be seen is whether or not the high over Bermuda will be able to strengthen enough to bump the hurricane west into land. For now, the wxchasing.com is well west of the NHC forecast at days 4 and 5. While we don’t currently anticipate a direct landfall, we do expect a 60% chance that somewhere on the US coast experiences hurricane conditions and an 80% chance that somewhere will see tropical storm conditions.
The forecast at days 4-6 is very fluid and changes are expected.
I will be most likely leaving on Wednesday to travel to the highest impact areas on the east coast with Mr. Gary Schmitt and a livestream of our chase should be made available at that time.
Brandon Clement will most likely not be chasing this storm due to personal family issues. Our thoughts are with him as he works to get through this rough time.
Look for more updates as Matthew begins to make his final moves over the coming days.
Meteorologist Logan Poole