11 p.m. update: Matthew’s maximum sustained winds have strengthened to 145 mph as the hurricane’s forecast track continues to drift to the west and closer to South Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory.
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The 5-day forecast puts more of South Florida in the cone of uncertainty.
Late Monday, hurricane warnings were in effect Haiti, portions of Cuba, the southeastern Bahamas and the central Bahamas. Tropical storm watches could go into effect for Florida as early as Tuesday morning, forecasters said.
Palm Beach County was given a 64 percent chance of feeling tropical storm-force winds beginning late Wednesday. South Florida has a 15 percent chance of seeing hurricane-force winds, the National Weather Service said.
8 p.m. update: Hurricane Matthew continues on the same track toward the Bahamas with 140-mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. advisory.
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Life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge is expected in parts of Haiti tonight.
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At 8 p.m., the government of the Bahamas issued a hurricane warning for the Central Bahamas, including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Cat Island, and a hurricane watch for the northwestern
Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence.
South Florida remains in Matthew’s path, with its outer bands potentially bringing tropical storm-force winds to the region. Palm Beach County was given a 64 percent chance of feeling tropical storm force winds beginning late Wednesday. Tropical storm conditions could linger through Friday, forecasters from the National Weather Service in Miami said Monday night.
South Florida is given a 15 percent chance of seeing hurricane-force winds, the weather service said.
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Update 4:43 p.m.: A significant shift westward in the forecast path of Hurricane Matthew puts South Florida deeper in its potential impact zone.
As of the 5 p.m. advisory, Palm Beach County was given an up to 70 percent chance of feeling tropical storm-force winds beginning late Wednesday.
The chance of hurricane force-winds were increased to 20 percent.
“Direct hurricane impacts are possible in Florida later this week,” hurricane center forecasters noted in key messages released with the 5 p.m. advisory. “Tropical storm and/or hurricane watches could be issued sometime tonight or early tomorrow for portions of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys.”
Update 4:20 p.m. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in every county in Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
“Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening Category 4 hurricane and we must all take it seriously,” Scott said. “We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.”
Update 2 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew continues to have wind speeds of 140 mph as it heads north at 6 mph toward Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm is about 195 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica and 250 miles southwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti.
The updated forecast track has pushed slightly to the west, skimming Palm Beach County through Jacksonville. That means the chances of tropical storm force winds for some coastal areas of Florida from Palm Beach County north are between 30 and 40 percent.
Update 11 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew increased in strength to 140 mph winds as of the 11 a.m. advisory and is expected to bring life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge to Haiti.
Already, the Associated Press reported is reporting that two fishermen died in storm-whipped seas churned up by Hurricane Matthew.
Haiti could get several feet of rain – up to 40 inches in isolated areas – and the National Hurricane Center is warning of dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.
Palm Beach County’s emergency operations center has ramped up to a level 3 activation and officials are asking residents not to let their guard down as Hurricane Matthew moves north.
Palm Beach County has a 30 to 40 percent chance of feeling tropical storm force wind with the worst of the weather beginning late Wednesday.
Bill Johnson, director of the county’s emergency center, said a level 3 activation means the office is in an enhanced monitoring situation and watching the storm closely.
“Whether or not we are in the cone, I don’t think that makes a darn bit of difference,” Johnson said this morning. “This is a major storm and all it takes is a little wobble to the west and we could have the potential of a potent hurricane on our doorstep.”
The National Hurricane Center says Palm Beach County has between a between 20 and 40 percent chance of feeling tropical storm-force winds.
Johnson said people should be checking their hurricane preparation plans and supplies today. But it’s not time for shutters or plywood just yet.
“If you haven’t done so already, you need to be reviewing your hurricane plan, reviewing the contents of your disaster kit and staying informed,” Johnson said. “The forecast models continue to have this windshield wiper effect and I don’t think anyone should let their guard down.”
The U.S. Coast Guard is asking boaters to stay off the water and ready for evacuation of live-aboard vessels if necessary.
“Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm,” a press release says.
Update 8 a.m.: Dangerous Hurricane Matthew, which had top sustained wind speeds of 130 mph at 8 a.m., will reach Jamaica and Haiti tonight and eastern Cuba on Tuesday.
South Florida could see impacts beginning as early at Wednesday through Friday.
The wind speed of 130 mph is down from 145 mph at the 11 p.m. advisory, but still keeps Matthew in the Category 4 range on the Saffir Simpson wind scale.
With the expected wind damage from the low-end Category 4 storm, forecasters also believe 25 inches of rain could fall across southern Haiti with isolated amounts of up to 40 inches.
Eastern Cuba and western Haiti could get up to 12 inches of rain with isolated areas seeing up to 20 inches. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Gramma and Las Tunas. The southeastern Bahamas is also under a hurricane warning.
“This could be catastrophic for some places, particularly Haiti,” National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen told USA Today. “This is an area where trees just don’t exist (due to deforestation). The terrain is stripped and the threat of major flash floods and mudslides is very real.”
Government officials in Jamaica ominously warned Sunday that the country cannot handle what Matthew is bringing.
At 8 a.m. storm was about 230 miles south-southeast of Kingtson, Jamaica and about 290 miles southwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti.
It is moving north at 6 mph.
Matthew has continued to wobble along its forecast path with its center now predicted to move through the Central Bahamas beginning late Tuesday and be far off the coast of Palm Beach County Thursday night.
But, the forecast cone was edged west at the 5 a.m. advisory, so that it now skims Palm Beach County and any toggle to the west could put more of South Florida inside the cone.
At 2 a.m. Thursday, hurricane center forecasters expect Matthew’s center to be just west of Nassau with 120 mph winds. By 2 a.m. Friday it is expected to be just northwest of Freeport with 120 mph winds.
Forecasters urged this morning that it is too early to rule out Matthew making landfall in Florida.
Palm Beach County has at least a 30 percent chance of feeling tropical storm-force winds by mid-week, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Although the official forecast continues to show a track east of Florida, it is still too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts there,” the NHC wrote. “It is also too soon to know whether, or how, Matthew might affect the remainder of the United States east coast.”
Still, computer models have come into better agreement on where Matthew’s route will take it, clustering away from Florida’s coast.