Hurricane Matthew Could Have “Catastrophic” Effects on Florida

Hurricane Matthew could be the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida in several years and the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center are taking notice. In a weather statement this morning they highlighted the danger of “devastating to catastrophic wind impacts.” Additionally they mentioned “failure to adequately shelter may results in serious injury, loss of life, or immense suffering.”

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This is no storm to mess around with folks. If you have friends or family in these areas, evacuation is highly recommended as soon as possible. If they decide to shelter, they need to be prepared for strong winds, flooding and the possibility of no assistance or aid (including power and water) for several days to weeks after the storm passes.


The Latest on Hurricane Matthew as of This Morning

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Mathew is currently near the Bahamas moving Northwest at a speed of 14 miles per hour. It is expected to make landfall sometime early Friday morning along the coast of Florida as a potential Category 4 hurricane. Hurricanes of this magnitude are considered “major” storms. Hurricane warnings are in effect along the Coast of Florida and Georgia. Additionally, hurricane watches exist for South Carolina’s coast.

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Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (How We Measure Hurricane Intensity)

From NOAA:

All Hurricanes are dangerous, but some are more so than others. The way storm surge, wind and other factors combine determines the hurricanes destructive power. To make comparisons easier and to make the predicted hazards of approaching hurricanes clearer to emergency managers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane forecasters use a disaster-potential scale which assigns storms to five categories. This can be used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast with a hurricane.

The scale was formulated in 1969 by Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer, and Dr. Bob Simpson, director of the National Hurricane Center. The World Meteorological Organization was preparing a report on structural damage to dwellings due to windstorms, and Dr. Simpson added information about storm surge heights that accompany hurricanes in each category.

 

CategoryWindsEffects
One74-95 mphNo real damage to building structures. Damage primarly to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage
Two96-110 mphSome roofing material, door, and window damage to buildings. Considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
Three111-130 mphSome structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 feet ASL may be flooded inland 8 miles or more.
Four131-155 mphMore extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof strucutre failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain continuously lower than 10 feet ASL may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas inland as far as 6 miles.
Fivegreater than 155 mphComplete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet ASL and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles of the shoreline may be required.

 

Examples

CategorySustained Winds
(MPH)
DescriptionExamples
1
74-95
MinimalFlorence (1988) LA | Charley (1988) NC
2
96-110
ModerateKate 1985 FL | Bob 1991 NY
3
111-130
ExtensiveAlicia 1983 TX
4
131-155
ExtremeAndrew 1992 FL | Hugo 1989 NC
5
>155
CatastrophicCamille 1969 MS | Labor Day Hurricane 1935 FL Keys

 

Again, if you have family or friends in this area, urge them to take this storm very seriously! To all my storm chaser friends venturing out for this storm, be very careful and stay safe!

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John R. Braddock
Storm Chaser/ Amateur Meteorologist at Mountain Wave Weather
John R. Braddock is a NOAA/NWS Certified Storm Chaser and Amateur Meteorologist living in Castle Rock, Colorado. A graduate of Colorado State University with a Bachelor's in Computer Science and a Colorado native, he specializes in short range forecasting, severe weather and mountain weather dynamics.

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