I know that SA mentioned our tracking of Hurricane Matthew yesterday, but a lot has changed down in the Caribbean. In an effort to give you the latest information and more importantly, attack the hype head on, I want to take a few minutes to update you on Matthew and what I'm thinking.
Yesterday as SA was writing, Matthew was gradually strengthening in the Caribbean, in conditions that were favorable for development but not overwhelmingly so because of relatively strong wind shear. Overnight, Matthew developed an inner core, and as this forecaster watched live at 3am, began to undergo exceptional strengthening.
That strengthening has continued all day, and currently Matthew is an incredibly dangerous storm with winds up to 150mph. In fact, Matthew continues to strengthen at this hour and has a real shot at getting close to category 5 strength. Interestingly, these winds are only confined to a small area of the storm--only the inner core, which is about 20 miles wide.
If you like tropical development like me, this is a fascinating period. In the whole scheme of things however, this means relatively little for our region or sensible weather. Although Matthew is going bananas right now, there are checks on how strong these storms get--Matthew will probably undergo what is called an eyewall replacement cycle, a natural phenomenon with exceptionally strong hurricanes--these ERCs tend to blunt the strength of storms and I expect this to take place at some point. In fact, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects weakening due to changing conditions and eventual land interaction, though we'll have to watch. Intensity forecasts are inherently and infamously uncertain out in time.
The forecast: Track
If anyone tells you that they know what Matthew will do after reaching after reaching the Bahamas, they're wrong. Here's what we know so far: I have relatively high confidence that Matthew will continue to move west to west-southwest, under the influence of high pressure. All of the guidance so far shows a turn to the north around the vicinity of Jamaica, as the storm feels a weakness in the ridge. Matthew, I expect, will be a potentially devastating storm to any land mass in the Caribbean, and by early Monday, the center will likely put Jamaica under the gun.
From there, Matthew is expected to continue on a generally northerly heading, most likely making landfall along the eastern Cuban coast later Monday into Tuesday, with the storm being weakened but off the coast of Cuba by Tuesday. From there, it is really anyone's guess of what happens.
For us, the guidance has been all over the place. There are a couple of features that we're watching closely. I am posting a snapshot of a model run rather than my usual gif--just to highlight what we're watching.
Forget about Matthew for a minute and follow the pieces on the board. First--look at the shading in the Atlantic due east of Matthew. This is the western Atlantic ridge. Broadly, the strength of this ridge will determine Matthew's path in the southeast. The second piece is over and north of our region. The strength and position of this piece will determine how quickly Matthew is kicked out to sea, if at all. The third piece is the blue shading, or troughing, in the midwest. The orientation and speed of this trough is one of the most important keys, as it may serve as the mechanism to kick Matthew out to sea well south of our region, or "capture" the system and draw it closer.
It is impossible to know how these pieces will interact to impact Matthew's track right now.
The Forecast: Intensity
I won't spend much time on this, but for our purposes, I will be focusing on how much Cuba disrupts the inner core of Matthew. Cuba has a number of high mountains, which could really disrupt a hurricane, but the guidance is almost unanimous in depicting a very intense storm once Matthew is in the Atlantic. This kind of consistency requires everyone along the east coast to take this storm seriously, even if it isn't at the ridiculous intensity it is at this hour.
The Bottom line
- Major Hurricane Matthew is an exceptionally strong hurricane in the Caribbean, and additional strengthening is possible during this period of rapid intensification.
- I expect there to be fluctuations in Matthew's strength once it reaches peak intensity, and weakening as it likely tracks over the mountainous area of Cuba.
- I expect a strong system to reach the Bahamas by early next week.
- Any track forecast past the Bahamas at this point is highly uncertain, and it will be days until we better resolve the pieces that will determine what type of system will approach the US coast, if at all.
- As is normal during hurricane season, everyone should take the opportunity to check your preparedness plan, if you haven't already (and you should have!).
- This is a system to watch closely, but there is absolutely no reason to panic or lock in any type of impact on Connecticut. This system will have hype associated with it, but we are way too far out in time to do anything but watch.
Please feel free to like, share, and spread the word to not believe any hype. The best way to follow a system like this...is one day at a time. You can follow us by clicking the buttons below and see our Facebook page or Twitter updates @SouthernCTWX. A note about tweets--I'll be retweeting a lot of information in the coming days. If you have questions, ask, but remember that even those tweets are snapshots in time. My information will be coming from reputable sources.