HOUSTON - MIAMI - "This storm will kill you." These words were spoken by Florida Governor Rick Scott today, urging people on their east coast to evacuate, ASAP. Hurricane Matthew rolls in tonight and could be the worst in over a decade, drowning anyone who tries to ride it out from storm surge. This hurricane is a reminder to anyone living in a hurricane zone (Houston included!) that major cataclysms like this do happen and its up to you to be prepared if and when our number comes up. Thankfully, from our perspective, the hurricane will stay out of the Gulf and safely away from Texas.
Matthew has already proven it's, "freakiness":
- Strengthened without warning overnight, from a Cat 1 to a Cat 5 before striking Haiti
- It may push high water and hellish winds into parts of Florida and Georgia that haven't seen a major hurricane in over a century
- The track could lead to the system doing a full loop-the-loop and strike AGAIN next week!
Matthew could become an absolutely devastating Category 5 just prior to landfall, around midnight tonight, near Palm Beach or Vero Beach. This would only amplify the already inevitable damage.
Here's what it looked like this morning in Nassau, as 100mph gusts whipped through neighborhoods.
Matthew hurricane will be the strongest since Wilma in 2005. Winds as of lunchtime were up to 140mph and its expected to gather strength all day. It could easily pack winds of 160mph by tonight, making it a Cat 5, though the official NHC forecast keeps it winds at 145mph. This is how it looked in Nassau this morning, as a comparatively weaker eye passed nearby with gusts of [only] 85mph.
In the western areas of Haiti away from Port Au Prince, it was estimated by Matthew left only a few homes standing. This is now considered a humanitarian crisis for Haiti comparable only to their 2010 earthquake which killed 220,000 people. The impacts there are only today becoming realized.
Matthew is different than other Florida hurricanes. Its impacts won't be localized to one small area. It will push heavy winds, waves and flooding rain up through at least 300 miles of densely populated coastline. If it does track into northeast Florida and Jacksonville as computer models currently forecast, a storm surge of 5-9 feet could inundate the that city and also the Golden Isles of Georgia, including the Brunswick area. Wind gusts could surpass 90mph pulling down 100 year old trees. This is particularly significant because the region hasn't been truly tested by a full-blown hurricane in over a century. Since the late 19th century, countless beach developments have sprung up as millions moved to the coast. If you are reading this from that area, I would strongly suggest you follow local evacuation orders and get out! In many areas, once the water's up, the causeway to exit the island gets submerged and you leave yourself to the relentless whims of nature at its worst.
To make matters worse, after the storm runs up the coast of Florida, from the south, it may do a complete loop and swing back down toward south Florida -- likely in a weaker state -- but full of rain and gusty winds.
While the storm will stay in the southeast, its impacts are far reaching, reminding anyone who lives in a hurricane-prone region to stay prepared and understand that while a hurricane may not be affecting you now, one most certainly will in the future whether you're ready for it or not.