Hurricane Matthew is moving NW through the Bahamas and heading toward the East Coast of Florida. It is a Category 3 storm now, but it is forecast to strengthen into a Cat. 4 with 140 mph winds this afternoon.
The forecast track shows Matthew starting to impact South Florida this afternoon with tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. Conditions will go downhill tonight as Matthew moves right along the Florida Coast. It is possible that it could move inland on Friday Morning, if not sooner, near Cape Canaveral, FL. The storm could also wobble and make multiple landfalls on Friday. This is going to cause significant damage and surge flooding to the Florida Coast.
It is worth noting, that there has never been a hurricane like this in Florida, so you can't really compare it to any past storm! The state is fearing the worst, but hoping for the best. The last time a storm was this strong was back in 2007 with Hurricane Dean as it made landfall in Central America with 145 mph winds. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Wilma back in October of 2005 as a Cat. 3 with 120 mph winds, so Matthew will be much stronger at landfall. This would also end the drought of how long it has been since the last major hurricane hit the U.S. (Wilma 2005).
Matthew will then track back offshore near Jacksonville, FL and then move just off the GA, SC, and NC Coasts as a Cat. 2. Hurricane conditions are expected there along with a large storm surge and plenty of coastal flooding.
The latest forecast models continue to show Matthew curving back out to sea and then to the SE. This is thanks to a weaker trough of low pressure. This trough is not going to pull Matthew northward, and an area of high pressure will build in keeping Matthew off the SE U.S. Coast. It is possible that Matthew will make a loop and head back out to sea.
It is also possible for Matthew to turn back to the west, cross over South Florida as a tropical storm, and then into the Southern Gulf of Mexico. It would then move toward the Yucatan Peninsula, and not be a threat to Louisiana. It is also possible that this may no longer be much of a tropical system either, just a weak low. Needless to say, we will keep an eye on it.