Hurricane Matthew a potentially devastating Category 4 or 5 strike ahead on Florida's East Coast; Strongest in decades

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

(Weather Channel) -- Hurricane Matthew, once again a Category 4 hurricane hammering the northwest Bahamas, is hours away from beginning a potentially catastrophic, rare Category 4, perhaps even Category 5 siege on Florida's east coast, with dangerous storm surge, destructive winds, and flooding rainfall stretching into Georgia and South Carolina by the weekend.

(MORE: State-by-State Evacuation Orders | Interactive Matthew Tracker Page)

The eyewall may deliver the strongest, most destructive winds anyone in parts of the northeast and east-central Florida coast has seen in their lifetime. The last, and only, Category 4 hurricane to make landfall anywhere in northeast Florida or the Georgia coast was an 1898 hurricane south of St. Simons Island, Georgia.

The National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, pulled no punches regarding the potential impact, saying Matthew would likely be stronger than any hurricane in recent decades, including the 2004 hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jeanne) as well as Hurricane David in 1979.

Embedded in NWS-Melbourne's hurricane local statement Thursday morning were these chilling paragraphs:

WIDESPREAD EXTENSIVE TO DEVASTATING WIND IMPACTS WILL BE FELT. AIRBORNE DEBRIS LOFTED BY EXTREME WINDS WILL BE CAPABLE OF BREACHING STRUCTURES, UNPROTECTED WINDOWS AND VEHICLES. EFFECTS SUCH AS THESE RANGING FROM THE COAST TO WELL INLAND HAVE NOT BEEN EXPERIENCED IN CENTRAL FLORIDA IN DECADES. LOCAL WINDS WILL EXCEED WHAT OCCURRED DURING THE HURRICANES OF 2004. ANY EVACUATIONS AND STRUCTURE PREPARATION SHOULD BE COMPLETED THIS AFTERNOON. TRAVEL WILL BE STRONGLY DISCOURAGED BEGINNING AT DUSK. EXPECT WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES.

Learn more about this massive storm:

57 PHOTOS
Hurricane Matthew approaches islands south of the United States
See Gallery
Hurricane Matthew approaches islands south of the United States
Hurricane Matthew is seen in the Caribbean Sea in this enhanced infrared image from NOAA's GOES-East satellite taken at 8:15am ET (12:15 GMT) October 4, 2016. NOAA/Handout via REUTERS FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A general view as Hurricane Matthew approaches Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A wave splashes on the beach at Siboney ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, Cuba, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sinister-looking face of #HurricaneMatthew at landfall in #Haiti [Un-doctored #weather #satellite image] https://t.co/hrviDVuJ3R
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A saleswoman shows lamps to a customers while other people flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tourists from Canada and Russia enjoy the beach before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A woman protects herself from rain as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A dog crosses a road as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Workers place plywood over the windows of a hotel in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A TV is left on the ground as it is transported to a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a room at a soccer stadium being used as a shelter while Hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Boats are secured off as residents look on at Port Royal while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers load a tuck with flour to distribute an extra portion to local bakeries ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Vendors sell their goods on the street while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Members of a family warm themselves next to a fire while Hurricane Matthew approaches Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Yosvan Anaya speaks to a friend (not pictured) in a cave in a cliff face to be used as a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People queue as they flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Adolfo Leiva, who is self-employed, puts sandbags over the roof of his home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A baby touches her mother's shoulder as they rest at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
People take their belongings to shelters prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People look out at the sea as hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Vendors sell their goods on the street while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man looks out at the sea as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a room at a soccer stadium being used as a shelter while Hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
An interior view of Norman Manley International Airport is seen as it shuts down on Monday ahead of Hurricane Matthew, in Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Women rest at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A boy rests on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A girl rests on the floor at the a set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Workers load a tuck with flour to distribute an extra portion to local bakeries ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Fisherman Enrique Albelo, 48, ties his boat ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A man wets his feet in the sea as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A girl looks at anchored boats as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Two men look at anchored boats as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Inesia Laguerre cradles her grandchild at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Vendors wait for clients on a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Vendors sell their goods on a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Vendors sell their goods at a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People carry their goods along a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People flock to the supermarket to take care of their last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Waves are seen as Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A boat is secured at Port Royal as Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Boats which are secured are seen near residents at Port Royal while Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
A man carries a TV to a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A man drinks a beer outside a boarded up shop at Norman Manley airport as hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A man holds a bottle of water while people flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers cover the doors and windows at a hotel as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People stand in line for last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans flock to the supermarkets to take care of last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans stand next to shopping carts filled with bottled water and other items outside a supermarket, pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
A man carries empty water containers while chatting with another man outside a supermarket, pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The severe impacts from this hurricane could lead to some locations being uninhabitable for weeks or months, the National Weather Service says.

Hurricane warnings have been extended northward to Edisto Beach, South Carolina. This also includes inland locations such as Orlando, Jacksonville, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.

Hurricane watches extend to just north of Charleston, South Carolina.

A hurricane warning remains in effect along the entire east coast of Florida, as well as the central and northwest Bahamas.

(MORE: Hurricane Central | Interactive Storm Tracker Map)

All preparations in the eastern Florida peninsula, coastal Georgia and southern South Carolina should be rushed to completion.


Current Watches/Warnings

See how the U.S. is preparing for Matthew:

27 PHOTOS
Preparations for Hurricane Matthew in the United States
See Gallery
Preparations for Hurricane Matthew in the United States
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni prepares for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni puts gas in a generator in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
A customer counts pieces of plywood at a Home Depot Inc. store in Miami, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. A watch for Hurricane Matthew posted for Florida's Atlantic coast has been extended, now running from the Volusia/Brevard county line to Golden Beach, including Boca Raton and Titusville, according to U.S. National Weather Service. Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni prepares for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: A sign points to an evacuation route as South Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Liz Tirado tries to put up her shutters to cover the windows of her store front ahead of Hurricane Matthew on Cocoa Beach, Florida on October 5, 2016. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. Far to the north, the first evacuations were ordered in the United States as coastal residents prepared to escape the approaching monster storm, expected off the East Coast later this week. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: A man loads panels used to cover windows onto his car as South Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Graylan Coleman (R) helps a relative remove furniture at a beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Dean Legge (R) helps his sister-law Josey Vereen (L) remove a mattress at her beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Dean Legge (L), Steven Thigpen (R) and Graylan Coleman (C) help a relative remove furniture at a beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
People line up to fill their cars with gas after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ordered a Wednesday afternoon evacuation of statewide coastal counties in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 6: (L to R) Shane Reed and Jon Anderson walk along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk carrying boogie boards, October 6, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. With Hurricane Matthew approaching the Atlantic coast of the United States, the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared a state of emergency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
ORMOND BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 6: Patrick Sheehan boards up windows at his pizza shop, October 6, 2016 in Ormond Beach, Florida. With Hurricane Matthew approaching the Atlantic coast of the United States, the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared a state of emergency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Ted Houston and his dog Kermit visit the beach as Hurricane Matthew approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Palm Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Kevin Forde (L) and John Haughey put up plywood on a window as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Miami Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Shoppers at a local market check the empty bread shelves October 5, 2016 in Titusville, Florida, as Hurricane Mathew heads for the southeastern United States. Hurricane Matthew has already hit Haiti and Cuba, with fatal results, and is barreling towards Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. / AFP / BRUCE WEAVER (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers install storm boards at Ripley's Believe IT Or Not in preparation for Hurricane Matthew in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Workers install storm boards in preparation for Hurricane Matthew along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Shelves formerly holding water bottles sit empty at a supermarket before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in South Daytona, Florida, U.S., Oct. 6, 2016. REUTERS/Phelan Ebenhack
Workers install storm boards in preparation for Hurricane Matthew along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A fireman cuts plywood boards to cover the station's windows at the Charleston Fire Department's branch in the historic district ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Homeowner Don Appell prepares to board up one of the windows at his home ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Cherry Grove, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A resident leaves a message for the storm after securing for Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Residents of Charleston occupy a school hallway at a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in North Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A resident walks past a wall of sandbags protecting a store in one of the city's low-lying areas before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Police officers and Red Cross workers wait for evacuees at a shelter that welcomes their pets too ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, at an elementary school in North Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Latest Status and Storm Reports

Satellite and radar imagery show the eye of Matthew making steady progress towards the Florida coast. The northwest Bahamas are still being battered by Matthew, as well.

Matthew's tropical storm-force wind field (at least 39 mph sustained winds) extends up to 160 miles from the center, and hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the center.

Current Wind Speed and Gusts

Some outer rainbands are already pivoting into Florida, with some stronger gusts embedded in those bands.

Latest radar, warnings

Timing for Matthew

Here is the approximate timing of the worst wind and surge impacts, coinciding with the nearest passage of the eyewall of Matthew. (Note that Matthew's eye may never make landfall, but its eyewall, containing the hurricane's strongest winds, may do so.)

  • Southeast Florida: Thursday evening through early Friday
  • East-central, northeastern Florida: Friday through Friday night
  • Georgia coast: Friday evening through Saturday morning
  • South Carolina: Saturday through Saturday night
  • North Carolina (mainly south): Saturday afternoon through early Sunday

(MORE: Facts/Myths About the Hurricane Cones of Uncertainty)

Small, subtle changes in the path of the eyewall, sometimes not resolvable until hours before the passage, will make a large difference on wind impact.

(MORE: When Hurricanes Parallel the Coast Instead of Making Landfall)

Storm Surge, Battering Waves, Beach Erosion Dangers

Major, damaging storm surge flooding is expected as Matthew curls its way northward along the Southeast coast. If you live along the immediate coast and are told to evacuate, please do so.

Here is how high the water could reach during this life-threatening inundation if the peak surge coincides with high tide, according to the National Hurricane Center:

Sebastian Inlet, Florida to the Edisto Beach, South Carolina: 7 to 11 feet above ground level
Deerfield Beach, Florida to the Sebastian Inlet, Florida: 4 to 6 feet above ground level
Edisto Beach, South Carolina to South Santee River, South Carolina: 4 to 6 feet above ground level
Virginia Key, Florida to Deerfield Beach, Florida: 1 to 2 feet above ground level

(MAP: NHC Prototype Storm Surge Watch/Warning)


Storm surge indication forecasts

Here are times of high and low tides for several locations that could see significant storm surge inundation. Keep in mind the NHC surge forecasts are "worst-case scenarios" if they occur at high tide.



Matthew will also continue to generate large, battering waves along the entire coastline of the Southeast through this weekend. Mariners should stay out of the water given this danger.

Of course, major beach erosion is a given with all those factors above playing out.

Destructive, Potentially Deadly Hurricane-Force Winds

Matthew's eyewall will likely rake a sizable swath of Florida East Coast, as at least Category 4 intensity, and is probable to pass near enough to the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina to bring hurricane conditions to those areas as well.

These may be the strongest, most destructive winds experienced along parts of the Florida east coast in decades, and may be of a magnitude not seen by many residents along the east-central and northeast Florida and Georgia coasts.

Hurricane-force winds (sustained 74+ mph) are likely along Florida's east coast starting Thursday night, and potentially north of there in coastal parts of Georgia and the Carolinas Friday into Saturday.

Structural wind damage is expected along with downed trees and widespread power outages in areas where hurricane-force winds occur. Matthew is forecast to be a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) when it moves near Florida's east coast, so extreme wind damage from winds over 100 mph is very possible.

The National Weather Service said in a local statement that widespread extensive to devastating wind impacts will be felt along the coast. Power outages could last for many days.



Should the center of Matthew ride right along the coast of Florida, hurricane-force winds could occur as far inland as Lake Okeechobee and the Orlando area in Florida. Widespread power outages could occur in those areas, as well.

(MORE: Impact Differences When a Hurricane Parallels the Coast Instead of Making Landfall)

Hurricane-force winds are possible in coastal parts of Georgia and South Carolina Friday night into Saturday. Widespread power outages, tree damage and structural damage is likely.

The potential for tropical storm-force winds (39 mph+) will encompass a larger part of Florida as well as southeast Georgia and the coastal Carolinas. These winds could expand all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

How strong those winds are in any one location will depend on where the center of Matthew tracks in relation to the Southeast coast.

(FORECAST: Charleston | Jacksonville | Miami | Wilmington)

Even tropical storm-force winds could down trees and knock out power.

Rainfall Flooding, Tornadoes

Two other threats from Matthew are the potential for rainfall flooding and tornadoes.

The heaviest rainfall totals, possibly ranging between 5-12 inches, are likely to be confined to the immediate coast, from Florida to eastern North Carolina. There is a potential for even heavier rainfall if Matthew makes landfall.

The storm surge will also limit rainfall runoff, aggravating flooding, especially in coastal locations where swollen rivers cannot drain, backing up rivers potentially miles inland.



An isolated tornado threat could also develop on the Southeast coast, as Matthew's center draws close.

Matthew's Strange Future Next Week

You may have noticed the forecast track has changed radically for areas from North Carolina northward.

Matthew will not get "picked up" by a southward dip in the jet stream forecast to push into the Northeast U.S. this weekend.

Instead, Matthew is expected to curl southeast, then south away from the coastal Carolinas beginning later Sunday.

Matthew is then expected to meander off the Southeast coast or north of the northwest Bahamas into next week, but details on where it may eventually go, including, perhaps a second strike as a weaker system in the Bahamas or Florida, are uncertain at this time.

Bahamas Impacts

Conditions will steadily worsen in the rest of the northwestern Bahamas, including Freeport. Conditions for the southern and central Bahamas will slowly improve Thursday.


Current Storm Status


Winds have already gusted to 85 mph in Nassau Thursday. Wednesday night, a 119 mph sustained wind was clocked at Exuma International Airport. Sustained winds over 100 mph were also clocked at George Town, also on Exuma.

The worst wind and surge impacts, coinciding with the nearest passage of the eyewall of Matthew, will affect the northwest Bahamas through Friday morning.

A storm surge of 10 to 15 feet, compounded by up to 15 inches of rainfall from Matthew will lead to life-threatening water rises in the Bahamas. Battering waves riding atop the surge will only compound the damage potential.

This is on the order of storm surge witnessed during Hurricane Joaquin almost exactly one year ago, only this time, it may occur over the entire island chain, rather than just the central and southeast Bahamas.

(FLASHBACK: Hurricane Joaquin 2015)

All interests along the Southeast U.S. coast should be rushing preparations to completion.

Check back with us frequently at weather.com for any important forecast updates.

Storm Reports, Recap

George F.L. Charles Airport on St. Lucia picked up 9.21 inches of rain Wednesday. On the south side of the island, Hewanorra Int'l Airport picked up 13.19 inches of rain in just 12 hours from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 8 a.m. Thursday, according to the Antigua Met Service.

Matthew strengthened to a rare Category 5 late Friday evening, becoming the first Category 5 Atlantic basin hurricane since Hurricane Felix in early September 2007.

(MORE: Category 5 Hurricanes Prior to Matthew)

Hurricane Matthew became the fifth hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season early Thursday afternoon.

According to Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Matthew became the lowest latitude Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic on record (beating the old record set by Ivan in 2004).

Some outer rainbands triggered flash flooding in Jamaica Sunday, hundreds of miles away from the center of Matthew.

Interestingly Sunday night, a fortunately-placed NOAA buoy sampled Matthew's eye, providing valuable information for meteorologists.



Hurricane Matthew's eye first came ashore in the Greater Antilles in the western Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Anglais around 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Matthew was the first Category 4 Haiti landfall since Hurricane Cleo in 1964, and only the fourth such intensity or stronger hurricane to track within 65 nautical miles of southern Haiti's Tiburon Peninsula since the 1960s, according to NOAA's Best Tracks Database.

(MORE: Devastation in Haiti)

Hurricane Matthew made a second landfall near Juaco, Cuba, around 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday evening. October 4. An unconfirmed wind gusts to 155 mph was reported in the town of Baracoa, Cuba, in Matthew's eyewall.



Radar from Guantanamo Bay Wednesday morning indicated Matthew's eyewall had a sizable hole in its western side after passing over Cuba Tuesday night.

Learn four key things about this deadly storm:

Read Full Story

From Our Partners