Powerful Hurricane Matthew Could Devastate Caribbean | NECN
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Meteorologists' Observations on the Weather

Powerful Hurricane Matthew Could Devastate Caribbean




    As a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mile per hour sustained wind, Matthew could be the worst hurricane disaster in the northern Caribbean islands since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

    To track Matthew (and all Atlantic Tropical Cyclones), use the guidance from the National Hurricane Center. NHC predicts a position over the Bahamas by the middle of the week. NHC maintains Matthew as a major hurricane, category 3 (111-129 mph) to category 4 (134-156 mph) through the next five days.

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    Confidence in the forecast track is fairly high into the Bahamas, but then drops off dramatically as Matthew approaches the southeast coast of the United States. Residents from Miami to Maine have to keep their guard up, as forecasting hurricane tracks is still cutting edge science, especially beyond two or three days.

    One year ago this week, Hurricane Joaquin pulled a fast one, as it completely missed the NHC forecast cone that indicated a path into North Carolina. Instead, Joaquin headed out to sea off South Carolina after wreaking havoc around the Bahamas and sinking the El Faro cargo ship.

    Joaquin ended up going over Bermuda and surviving all the way to the Azores.

    Matthews' future could be equally as uncertain. The most prudent forecast is to go along with the NHC cone of vulnerability. There has been some tendency for the future track of Matthew to be closer to the Florida coast, so that region is the most immediate threat in the United States. After paralleling the coast of Florida, that's where we really do not know what is going to happen with Matthew.

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    A storm that went by, mostly missing New England last Wednesday, is now creating blizzard conditions in Greenland. South of that storm, a block in the atmosphere has developed with high-pressure mostly dominating the weather here in New England through the weekend.

    Well to the east of the Bahamas, the NHC is also monitoring an area of low pressure south of Bermuda that may try and develop into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

    On the other side of the United States, an early winter storm is blasting the Sawtooth Range of Idaho to the Black Hills of Montana. That system will progress toward the Great Lakes.

    It all adds up to many meteorological ingredients that have to be balanced.

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    A worst-case scenario for New England would be for Matthew to get close to eastern North Carolina on Thursday or Friday as the next front approaches New England from the west. That's the same front on the southern edge the Montana to Ontario snowstorm. This is sort of what happened with Hurricane Hazel 1954. Hazel moved inland after South Carolina, causing widespread flooding and tremendous amount of damage all the way into Toronto.

    A path similar to Hazel would result in beneficial rain for New England, without serious wind damage. I would give odds of that path less than 50-50.

    Due to the slow movement of Matthew forecast by NHC late this week, it's quite possible the next front can come through New England with Matthew still lingering off the coast of the southeastern United States.

    That means we would have to continue to worry right into next week. Even with Matthew staying well to our south of New England this week, there is a pretty good chance we end up with rain here in New England by the weekend due to the front from the west, and possibly a backing nor'easter separate from Matthew off southeastern Massachusetts.

    The worst hurricanes that hit New England move by Hatteras, North Carolina, headed north at a very fast speed, if we see that trajectory begin to become a possibility that's when we will raise an alarm. We will know more on that possible scenario by Wednesday or Thursday. We should have three to four days notice if this were to occur.

    In the meantime, we have high pressure from Canada bringing us some fairly nice weather most of the week. Blue skies during the morning, chance of an afternoon showers and sprinkles, and patchy fog at night. High temperatures close to 70 inland midweek and into the beginning of the weekend.

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    Confidence in the forecast really drops off by Saturday and Sunday. But we will be here keeping you posted!

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