What scary tropical cyclone was named a year ago today?

In late September 2016, South Florida was vaguely aware of a tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa.

It had low chances of development.

But by Sept. 28, the area of disturbed weather, showers and convection,  had earned a name – Matthew, the 13th tropical cyclone of the 2016 hurricane season.

Related: Photo gallery of Hurricane Matthew in Palm Beach County

Related: Why Palm Beach County residents refused to evacuate during Hurricane Matthew

On Sept. 29, Matthew became a hurricane and quickly strengthened.

In Fact, Hurricane Matthew’s explosive intensification to a dangerous Category 5 storm was not predicted by any National Hurricane Center models and shocked forecasters who watched its winds grow to 165 mph in a day, according to a report released earlier this year.

“I have never seen a storm intensify this much in the path of what we would consider to be adverse conditions,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart, who wrote the report on Hurricane Matthew. “We are fortunate this occurred over the open Caribbean because if it happened over the Gulf Stream, and suddenly you have a Category 4 or 5, it’s going to make a big difference if people aren’t prepared.”

Photo gallery: After Hurricane Matthew

By Oct. 4,  the forecast cone of uncertainty for Matthew cut Florida almost in half lengthwise, swallowing everything east of and including Lake Okeechobee.

Emergency managers urged people to prepare and began calling for evacuations of barrier islands.

“Whether or not we are in the cone of uncertainty, I don’t think makes a darn bit of difference. This is a big storm,” said Bill Johnson, director of Palm Beach County’s Emergency Operations Division, at the time. “Even if it stayed on track, we were going to get a significant part of this storm. If it ticks to the west, it’s going to be even worse.”

Hurricane Matthew off the coast of Florida Oct. 6, 2016

Matthew gave South Florida its first real scare from a tropical cyclone since 2005’s Hurricane Wilma.

Related: Catch up on all Hurricane Matthew coverage here. 

It brushed by Palm Beach County as a Category 4 storm on Oct. 6 with no hurricane-force winds recorded on land.

Palm Beach International Airport measured sustained winds of 33 mph with gusts of 50 mph during the storm. Sustained tropical storm-force winds of 56 mph were measured in Jupiter with gusts up to 66 mph.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just south of McClellanville, S.C., on Oct. 8.

Low-altitude oblique photography taken before Hurricane Matthew (Sept. 6, 2014) and after (Oct. 13, 2016) shows the storm cut a new inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Florida, stripping away a 3.7 meter (12-foot) dune and carrying sand into the estuary.Public domain

While Matthew caused widespread damage to roofs, trees and power lines from Florida to North Carolina, it devastated Haiti, killing more than 500 people and either destroying or damaging more than 200,000 homes.

In the U.S., 34 deaths were directly attributed to Matthew, including two in Florida.

The number of people killed made Matthew the deadliest hurricane since 2005’s Hurricane Stan.

ST AUGUSTINE, FL – OCTOBER 07: Rob Birch checks on his car which floated out of his drive way as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Leading hurricane forecast increases number of predicted storms

Colorado State University revised its 2017 hurricane forecast, increasing the number of storms predicted this season to slightly above average.

The forecast, which predicted a below average season in April, was changed in response to mounting doubts that El Nino will make a strong appearance this summer or fall.

Related: 2017 hurricane names 

Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 6, 2016

Phil Klotzbach, the lead writer for CSU’s forecast, hinted last month that he may need to increase the number of storms he predicted because of warming waters and the lack of El Nino.

Related: Indecisive El Nino makes 2017 forecast a big gamble. 

Klotzbach is now calling for 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. This forecast includes Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed in April.

An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The season runs from June 1 through November, but peak season is mid-August through mid-October.

Check The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking  map.

The updated forecast more closely aligns with the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast, which was released last week. The center is predicting 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, and two to four major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.

People didn’t evacuate in Hurricane Matthew, experts debate whether risk was clear

Six months after dangerous Hurricane Matthew buzzed up Florida’s Atlantic coast, storm experts are still debating why some people didn’t evacuate in the face of what became the 10th most destructive storm in U.S. history.

A clutch of coastal condo dwellers and beachfront homeowners refused to budge despite mandatory orders and unusual public pleas from South Florida hurricane hero Bryan Norcross and National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb.

Read: Slight jog keeps worst of Matthew away from Palm Beach County 

They got lucky when Matthew delivered only a glancing blow, but how to better convey potential storm risk was a theme at Wednesday’s National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans where forecasters lamented ineffective messaging.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

“I think it’s fair to say we have not had a successful storm from a communications standpoint in memory,” said Norcross, a Weather Channel expert who is credited with saving lives during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. “And when I say successful, I mean in the regard that people understood what the threat was.”

Gary Freedman stands on his 12th story balcony at the Ocean Trail Condominium on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Gary and his wife Ruth chose to stay in their condo during Hurricane Matthew after an evacuation order was issued. (Joseph Forzano / The Palm Beach Post)

As Matthew bore down on the Sunshine State with 140 mph winds, Norcross taped a special message to his “friends in Florida” asking them to heed evacuation demands, while Knabb, backed by standing hurricane center staff members, made his own plea in a more personalized effort to reach people.

“It bothered us that we had to do that,” said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. “It just seemed that people in Florida weren’t evacuating.”

Read how people reacted in Palm Beach County and what meteorologists think the solution is to better risk messaging in the full story here. 

ST AUGUSTINE, FL – OCTOBER 07: Rob Birch checks on his car which floated out of his drive way as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Flight director recalls harrowing trips into monster Hurricane Matthew

The vibrant magentas and bloody reds told the story before the jostling began.

Jack Parrish’s plane hurtled toward a circle of violent thunderstorms, where updrafts slingshot air into the atmosphere so fast and high that water droplets froze to hail, reflecting on radar in Kool-Aid-colored hues.

“We call them rings of fire,” said Parrish, a 36-year veteran flight director with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters. “The reds and magentas, that is where the really bad happens.”

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

The day before the ring-of-fire flight into October’s Hurricane Matthew, the storm was a mild-mannered Category 1 that no one — computer or human — thought would deepen in the near term.

But within 24 hours, Matthew underwent a shockingly rapid intensification to a 165-mph Cat 5 cyclone that, despite heroic hurricane flights and advanced forecast models, was not predicted.

Even after months of review, the senior hurricane specialist who wrote a post mortem on Matthew calls the rapid intensification an “enigma” — a puzzle that concerns some storm experts, who fear a whittled-down budget for the landmark Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project will see further cuts under the current administration.

See the interactive Palm Beach Post storm tracking map here. 

The project was launched with a $13 million budget after the historic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, but has since undergone reductions that shrank its budget to $4.8 million.

“There are things in the atmosphere that we still don’t understand, mysteries and variables that drive weather that we just don’t get,” said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert with AccuWeather. “I am worried about government officials not understanding the problem. We as scientists have to keep putting the problem in front of them.”

Hurricane Matthew over the Bahamas in October 2016.

For Parrish, focusing on the moment is how to keep the concerns about flying into a Category 4 or 5 hurricane at bay.

“It was a wild couple of days,” Parrish said about his flights into Hurricane Matthew. “We only do zero gravity once in a while, and it happened twice in Matthew.”

In Matthew’s post-storm assessment, National Hurricane Center senior storm specialist Stacy Stewart noted that its eye contracted to 6 miles from 34 while strengthening by an “extraordinary” 86 mph.

Related: 2017 hurricane forecast based on chances El Nino will reappear

That happens when the air rushing skyward in circling thunderstorms speeds up, stretching the cylinder of the rotating cyclone vertically so that the diameter of the center shrinks. It’s like ice skaters going into spins. Their twirls quicken as they bring outstretched arms closer to their bodies and over their heads.

The high winds of Hurricane Matthew roar over Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The dangerous Category 4 storm blew ashore around dawn in Haiti. It unloaded heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Parrish said he is most wary of rapidly intensifying storms on such missions. When a cyclone is deepening quickly, there is no easy way in or out of the eye.

“It’s hard every way,” he said. “We know it’s going to be kind of unpleasant.”

The smallest eye Parrish has been in was just three miles across. When it’s that small, there isn’t much time for data collection, he said.

“When they start to shrink up like that, there are a lot of updrafts and downdrafts and there is no easy way in. It’s hard in every way,” Parrish said.

To read about what scares scientists the most with storms like Matthew see the full Palm Beach Post story here. 

In 2016, Hurricane Hunter Mike Holmes’ recalled his flight into 2015’s Hurricane Patricia, which in 24 hours deepened from a Category 1 storm to 207 mph.

Hurricane Patricia

He recalled his keyboard clapping up and down, which knocked out programs on his screen. A laptop jostled free of its storage and hurtled the length of the cabin like a missile. Crew members braced against a ricochet that tested limitations — human and machine alike.

Then, at 1:33 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2015, pilots penetrated the storm’s tightly wrapped core into an eye of blue. But it was 1 minute earlier that history was made.

Hurricane Patricia’s winds were measured at more than 200 mph. The Pacific Ocean hurricane was well beyond the magnitude of a Category 5 storm. It was the strongest, most intense, hurricane on record.

Hurricane Patricia’s winds reached 215 mph, the strongest on record.

In just 24 hours, Patricia’s winds had ramped up from a modest Category 1 storm to 207 mph — a “remarkable” intensification no one had predicted, and a nightmare scenario for meteorologists entrusted with saving lives.

To read more about Holmes’ ride into a monster, see the full Palm Beach Post story here. 

 

Update: No models forecast Hurricane Matthew’s Cat 5 power

Update:  Hurricane Matthew’s incredible rapid intensification to a Category 5 storm was not predicted by any of the forecast models used by National Hurricane Center experts, taking meteorologists by surprise when its winds reached 165 mph in a 24-hour period.

According to a report released this morning by the center, the October hurricane was thought to be in an area where strong wind shear limited development and created conditions that allowed for “only slow or no strengthening” when the explosive growth occurred.

Matthew, which gave South Florida its first real scare from a tropical cyclone since 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, instead experienced a “remarkable” intensification full of an unusually high number of lightning strikes and a dramatic eyewall contraction from 30 nautical miles across to just 5 nautical miles.

“I have never seen a storm intensify this much in the path of what we would consider to be adverse conditions,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart, who wrote the report on Hurricane Matthew. “We are fortunate this occurred over the open Caribbean because if it happened over the Gulf Stream and suddenly you have a Category 4 or 5, it’s going to make a big difference if people aren’t prepared.”

This satellite image from about 10 p.m. Thursday shows Hurricane Matthew off the South Florida coast.

The storm was about 90 miles north of Punta Gallinas, Colombia, when it experienced the unexpected rapid intensification, with the strongest winds no threat to land.

But the growth was still noteworthy and has only “been exceeded a few times in Atlantic historical record.”

“This intensity made Matthew the southernmost Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin, surpassing a record previously set by Hurricane Ivan in 2004,” today’s report said.

“It’s extremely unusual and there are only a few hurricanes that intensified faster than that,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground. “Hurricane Wilma did 90 knots (103 mph) in 24 hours, but it’s rare.”

The National Hurricane Center conducts a post-storm analysis on every tropical cyclone each season. Matthew was the last of 16 reports for the Atlantic basin’s 2016 hurricane season, which was the most active since 2012.

“The report on Hurricane Matthew was just completed and we learned we did pretty well,” said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “The forecast track errors for the storm were significantly lower than the errors over the previous five years. However, we saw our intensity forecast errors were greater.”

It made landfall as a Category 1 storm just south of McClellanville, S.C. on Oct. 8.

Matthew caused widespread damage to roofs, trees and power lines from North Florida to North Carolina. It washed our roads, eroded beaches and destroyed 11 homes in Brevard County, which was the portion of Florida closest to Matthew’s center. Volusia County suffered 69 homes destroyed with 467 sustaining major damage.

Matthew devastated Haiti, killing more than 500 people and destroying or damaging more than 200,000 homes. In the U.S., 34 deaths were directly attributed to Matthew, including two in Florida.

The number of people killed made Matthew the deadliest hurricane since 2005’s Hurricane Stan.

Matthew was also the southernmost Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin on record, surpassing Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

While forecasting intensity has improved, it is still a challenge, and Stewart said what caused Matthew’s rapid growth remains a mystery.

Even though wind shear recalculations in the analysis resulted in a lower wind speeds to tear at the storm, they were still moderately high at up to 17 mph.

“Either the models were wrong or the data going into the models were wrong or something else occurred internally that allowed it to intensify,” Stewart said. “Our worst case scenario is as forecasters is to have a storm go through an explosive intensification and not be forecast.”

Previous story: The National Hurricane Center released its final analysis of monster storm Hurricane Matthew this morning, marking it as “extraordinary” for its unexpected strength, and deadly for killing the most people since 2005’s Hurricane Stan.

Matthew, which was a Category 5 storm with 166 mph winds at its peak, is directly responsible for the deaths of 585 people, including 34 in the U.S., according to the report.

Two Floridians died during Matthew. A Crescent City woman was killed when a tree fell on her camper, and a DeLand woman died when a tree fell on her while she was outside “feeding her animals,” the report said.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL – OCTOBER 07: Large waves caused by Hurricane Matthew pound the Jacksonville Pier and was damaged by the storm, October 7, 2016 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Hurricane Matthew passed by offshore bringing heavy winds and flooding. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It reached hurricane strength at the lowest latitude in recorded history, and intensified by 86 mph in a 24-hour period.

“This intensity made Matthew the southernmost Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin, surpassing a record previously set by Hurricane Ivan in 2004,” the report notes.

Matthew rocked South Florida in October. It was the first major tropical cyclone residents had faced down since 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, and sent nearly 8,000 people to shelters.

Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 6, 2016

But the region got lucky. Matthew turned north, sending no  more than tropical storm-force gusts to Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach International Airport recorded a gust of 50 mph during the storm. Jupiter measured a gust of 66 mph.

Haiti  suffered the most losses during Matthew with 546 deaths, 210,000 homes wrecked and an estimated $1.9 billion in total damage.

“During the aftermath, an outbreak of cholera developed due to the significant damage that Haiti’s life support infrastructure incurred, resulting in nearly 10,000 cases, according to the Pan American Health Organization,” the report says.

Check back for more on this developing story and why the intensity forecast was wrong during the explosive growth of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida in October, 2016

Hurricane center website went dark as Hurricane Matthew bore down on Florida

In Thursday’s darkness, as powerful Hurricane Matthew spun off Palm Beach County’s coast, the critical source of information on the frightening Category 4 storm went black for some users.

Beginning at 11 p.m. Thursday, the National Hurricane Center website was unavailable to some people and although the issue was reported immediately, NOAA said in a statement that service wasn’t fully restored until 2 a.m. Friday.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

This satellite image from about 10 p.m. Thursday shows Hurricane Matthew off the South Florida coast.
This satellite image from about 10 p.m. Thursday shows Hurricane Matthew off the South Florida coast.

Matthew’s biggest impact to Palm Beach County was felt in the overnight hours Thursday when wind gusts of 67 mph were recorded in Jupiter.

Yet the 11 p.m. advisory from the hurricane center that showed where the storm was located, its forward speed and intensity was unavailable to an unknown number of users.

In a statement, NOAA said that forecasters continued to issue forecasts through normal “dissemination systems and using NWSChat, social media, NOAA Weather Radio, and other information channels to communicate critical forecast information to partners and customers.”

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

NOAA blamed the temporary disruption in service on a “hardware anomaly” that affected how NOAA sites identify themselves to the web.

The lack of site access depended on the Internet carrier.

“We have determined this was not caused by a security incident,” NOAA said.

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But it’s not the first time the organization has had technology problems during critical weather emergencies.

Key National Weather Service systems nationwide went dark in July as tornadoes threatened the central U.S., hail pelted Iowa and thunderstorms blew up in South Florida.

For a four-hour period July 13, emergency alerts either failed to send or were delayed, while radar and current weather observations were only intermittently available to the public.

Some forecasting offices were forced to tweet screen captures of radar images during severe weather, including in the Kansas City area, where meteorologists were providing information to two county fairs hit by high winds.

“Both events received more than an hour heads-up from our office of impending hazardous weather and shut down operations well in advance,” reported the NWS office in Pleasant Hill, Mo. “However, both expressed concern that they couldn’t access radar or warning data from our website.”

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Incredible images from inside powerful Hurricane Matthew

Teams from NOAA and the Air Force Reserve boldly fly into hurricanes to provide vital information about wind speeds and the atmosphere around tropical cyclones.

During long-lived Matthew, meteorologists and flight crews on the planes took stunning photos from within the storm.

Hurricane Matthew: Full coverage

The images show the complexity of tropical cyclones that can be both beautiful and deadly. On Sept. 30, Matthew briefly became a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds – the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic since Felix in 2007.

 

 

Hurricane Matthew floods north Florida, Georgia coast

11 p.m. update: The eye of Matthews continues northward just off the coast of Georgia, bringing storm surge flooding across the north Florida and Georgia coast.

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory, Matthew was packing sustained winds of 105 mph as it moved north at 12 mph. Its center was about 70 miles south-southeast of Savannah, Ga. A turn toward toward the north-northeast, then to the northeast is expected Saturday.

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Storm 2016: Check our interactive tracking map

Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane while the center is near the coast. According to the forecast, the center of Matthew will continue to move near or over the coast of Georgia through tonight, near or over the coast of South Carolina later tonight and Saturday, and near the coast of southern North Carolina on Saturday night.

Earlier Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said dangerous flooding could plague the Jacksonville area for days. “We are very concerned about storm surge and there is potential for significant flooding in Jacksonville,” Scott said at a Friday night briefing in Volusia County. “Flooding in this area could potentially last for days, and river flooding could last even longer.” At least four possible storm-related deaths have been reported in Florida.
Matthew’s worst shot may be at north end of Florida

ST AUGUSTINE, FL - OCTOBER 07: Rob Birch checks on his car which floated out of his drive way as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ST AUGUSTINE, FL – OCTOBER 07: Rob Birch checks on his car which floated out of his drive way as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Browse photos of Matthew’s path through the Caribbean, Florida

Millions of people are under mandatory evacuation orders along the east coast of the United States as emergency response officials watched the hurricane churn its way toward the country.
• Hurricane Matthew: Live updates as storm batters East Coast

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•  Forecasters faced worse-case scenario
Hurricane Matthew: Full coverage

Continue reading “Hurricane Matthew floods north Florida, Georgia coast”

Hurricane Matthew: Hurricane warning discontinued for Palm Beach County

Update, 5 a.m.: The National Hurricane Center discontinued Palm Beach County’s hurricane warning, downgrading it to a tropical storm warning in its 5 a.m. advisory.

The tropical storm warnings for Broward and Miami-Dade Counties were canceled.

Hurricane Matthew is still a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds, moving north-northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is currently 40 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral and about 90 miles southeast of Daytona Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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In addition, an 88-mph wind gust was recorded near Satellite Beach, according to the National Weather Service.

Update, 4 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew is getting closer to the Florida coast, and its effects are being felt inland as well.

Orlando recorded a 45 mph wind gust in the last hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Sustained winds of 46 mph and a gust of 70 mph were recorded in Melbourne.

Hurricane Matthew, with winds of 120 mph, is currently 45 miles east of Melbourne and 50 miles east southeast of Cape Canaveral, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is moving northwest at 14 mph.

Update, 3 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew has weakened to a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, but sustained hurricane-force winds are just offshore, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is currently located about 55 miles east southeast of Melbourne and 65 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral. Hurricane Matthew is moving northwest at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In the past hour, sustained winds of 45 and 49 mph (with gusts of 71 and 63 mph) were recorded in Melbourne and Vero Beach, respectively, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Update, 2:15 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for northeastern Palm Beach County, effective until 5:15 a.m.

The advisory was issued due to a rain band remaining stationary over the county. The rain band has dropped three inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Areas affected include West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth and Riviera Beach, according to the National Weather Service.

2 a.m. track for Hurricane Matthew. (NHC)
2 a.m. track for Hurricane Matthew. (NHC)

Update, 2 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew is continuing its approach toward the Florida coastline and is now 45 miles east of Vero Beach. The storm is 80 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral and is moving northwest at 14 mph.

Hurricane Matthew weakened slightly, its wind speed decreasing to 120 mph.

Additionally, the NOAA Hurricane Hunters tweeted a video of a flight from inside Hurricane Matthew. You can view the video here:

Update, 1 a.m.: Winds of 50 mph or more are still affecting South Florida, from Miami-Dade County up to Volusia County as Hurricane Matthew approaches the Florida coast.

The storm still has winds of 130 mph and is moving northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Matthew is currently located about 50 miles east southeast of Vero Beach and 90 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral.

Update, 12 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew is continuing to move closer to the Florida coastline and is now 60 miles east southeast of Fort Pierce, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm has winds of 130 mph and is moving northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Gusts of 55 and 54 mph were recorded in Stuart and Vero Beach, respectively, according to the National Hurricane Center. There was also a reported gust of 71 mph in Jensen Beach.

Update, 11 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew has moved north of Freeport, Bahamas, and is now moving toward the east coast of Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center. cane-11pm-thur-fb_720

The storm, which has sustained winds of 130 mph and a central pressure of 939 millibars, is currently about 125 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral.

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for Palm Beach County, including Lake Okeechobee.

(See what wind speeds are forecast for your city)

A sustained wind of 39 mph, the threshold for tropical storm force, with a gust to 50 mph, was recorded at 10 p.m. at a South Florida Water Management District recording station in the center of Lake Okeechobee, the National Weather Service Miami office said.

Update, 10 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew, with top sustained winds still 130 mph, is now about 65 miles east of West Palm Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is moving northwest at 13 mph, and Vero Beach recently reported a wind gust of 50 mph.

Update, 9 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew, with top sustained winds still at 130 mph, has moved to about 70 miles east of West Palm Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is moving northwest at 13 mph, and Palm Beach International Airport recently reported a wind gust of 50 mph.

Update 8 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew has moved closer to the Palm Beach County coastline in the past hour – it is now 75 miles off off the coast. A significant feeder band about 40 miles off the coast will likely reach North Palm Beach and Jupiter around midnight.weather

The storm made landfall at 8 p.m. on the western end of Grand Bahama Island with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

It is moving north / northwest around 13 mph.

In Palm Beach County, a tropical storm wind gust of 67 mph was recorded in Juno Beach. Some of the stronger feeder bands have started to move through Palm Beach County – Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Boynton and Delray – at significant speeds.

Matthew will continue to come very close to the Treasure Coast as a Category 4 and is expected to make landfall in the morning – potentially in Fort Pierce or Vero Beach.

South of Boca Raton, in northern Broward County, the hurricane warning has been replaced by a tropical storm warning.

The tropical storm warning south of Ocean Reef, including the Upper Keys, has been discontinued.

Update 7 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew is 85 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach and maintaining 140 mph winds.

While a jog to the north in the storm’s track may have spared the county widespread major hurricane-force winds, there is still a high threat of damaging winds in the northeastern part of Palm Beach County.

Forecasters said it’s going to be a stormy night and a potentially dangerous situation as storm surge rises 3 to 5 feet in a worse case scenario.

“I’d say you may be in the process of dodging a bullet but certainly it is still a 140 mph Category 4 storm that can do damage,” said Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger for Weather Underground. “You could still be in for several hours of very strong winds.”

Update 5 p.m.: A jog to the north in the track of Hurricane Matthew has improved the forecast slightly for Palm Beach County, but forecasters said it is still a dangerous major hurricane.

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The storm is 90 miles east-southeast from West Palm Beach and has maintained 140 mph winds – a Category 4 – but it is no longer forecast to reach 145 mph.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Palm Beach County, but Miami forecasters said the possibility of Category 3 winds is less likely.

“Don’t be fooled by quiet weather. We are talking about a 140-mph hurricane just 50 miles off the coast and that could still be catastrophic if it moves a little,” said Larry Kelley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “If this wobbles at all to the west, the eye wall gets awfully close to the Palm Beach Coast.”

The eye of Hurricane Matthew is about to hit Freeport, Bahamas.

rbtop_lalo-animated

 

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the slight shift in track has significantly improved the forecast for Miami-Dade County and is somewhat better for Palm Beach County.

Because of the track shift, forecasters have made some adjustments to the timing of the tropical-storm-force winds throughout South Florida.

In Palm Beach County, tropical storm force winds are expected to last through 6 a.m. Friday.

Hurricane-force winds in Palm Beach County are expected to occur between 8 p.m. and midnight, with gusts to hurricane force coming in periodic squalls from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Also, the percent chance of hurricane-force wind speeds has dipped slightly to between 30 and 60 percent.

“Remain braced against the reasonable threat for hurricane force wind of 74 to 110 mph, equivalent to a Category 1 or 2,” forecasters wrote.

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The National Hurricane Center is using strong language in its forecasts for Hurricane Matthew, saying at its 2 p.m. update that the storm could have “potentially disastrous impacts on Florida.”

“This will be a Cat 4 all the way to landfall,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground and a former NOAA Hurricane Hunter. “Just a small wobble is enough to make a difference in what kind of winds you’ll see.”

As of 4 p.m., Matthew is 115 miles south-southeast of West Palm Beach.

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The National Weather Service in Miami is warning of “extreme major hurricane-force winds” in coastal and northern Palm Beach County.

While the Gulfstream could add additional fuel to Matthew’s engine, Masters thinks the official forecast of 145 mph as it nears the coast is a good one.

“You will be on the left side, which is weaker,” Master’s said. “Winds on the left can be 30 mph less.”

UPDATE 3 p.m.: The center of Hurricane Matthew is located about 130 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm, which has top sustained winds of 140 mph, is moving northwest at 14 mph and its central pressure is now 939 mb.

The NHC reports a National Ocean Service station at Lake Worth Pier recently reported a sustained wind of 40 mph, with a gust of 47 mph.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew as it approaches Florida

UPDATE 2:25 pm: Rain bands are increasing in both frequency and intensity, with some gusting at nearly 40 mph, the National Weather Service’s Miami office said in an update. A wind gust of 59 mph was measured at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at 1:45 p.m., Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda said.

He said tides “will increase once again this evening and through the next high tide cycle which will occur between 12:matt30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. tonight, leading to significant storm surge concerns for the Palm Beach County coast as winds reach hurricane force.”

UPDATE 2 p.m.: Sustained winds of 111 mph to 129 mph are “a serious concern” in coastal Palm Beach County overnight, the National Weather Service’s Miami office said in a 1 p.m. update.

It also said sustained tropical storm- force winds — 39 mph to 73 mph — could arrive as early as 3 p.m.

Already, squalls and rain bands were moving into Palm Beach County, including one just before 2 p.m. that brought visibility to near zero on Interstate 95 near Forest Hill Boulevard.

A flood watch was in effect for Palm Beach County and forecasters warned of locally heavy rainfall.

Watch Weather Service/Hurricane Center update

The Weather Service said the hurricane force winds likely will arrive around 9 p.m. and end around 6 a.m. Friday, with tropical storm winds gone by about 8 a.m. Friday.

Forecasters Pablo Santos and Robert Garcia also warned of “life threatening surge” along the Palm Beach County coastline. And, as always, they warned of the potential for tornadoes.

UPDATE, 12:45 p.m.: Bands of rain from Hurricane Matthew have begun to hit the West Palm Beach area.

The first bands hit Miami just after noon and a gust of 49 mph was recorded, the National Weather Service said.

UPDATE, 11 a.m.: A rise in wind speed turned Hurricane Matthew back into a Category 4 storm as it neared Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

Stay safe: Where to find a shelter in the area

The National Weather Service in its 11 a.m. update said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. It was moving to the northwest at 14 mph and was about 180 miles southeast of West Palm Beach.

Matthew is expected to remain a category storm as it approaches Florida, the hurricane center said.

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Related: FPL forecasts up to 1.2 million customers could lose power

Palm Beach County can expect to feel tropical-storm force winds — 39 mph or greater — from 3 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service said.

Hurricane-force winds — 74 mph or greater — are most likely from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

More coverage:

UPDATE, 8 a.m. Powerful Hurricane Matthew will reach South Florida this morning and build to a potentially catastrophic 145 mph Category 4 storm on its journey from the Bahamas.

The previous forecast had it reaching 130 mph winds, but a shrinking eye and plunging minimum central pressure led the National Hurricane Center to increase the intensity forecast.

Palm Beach County is not expected to feel sustained 145 mph winds, but has a 60 percent chance of getting hurricane-force winds. The chances of tropical-storm-force winds in Palm Beach County are 100 percent.

As of the 8 a.m. advisory, Matthew was 215 miles southeast of West Palm Beach with 125 mph winds.

Feeder bands are already reaching South Florida with tropical-storm-force winds expected midday.

“Right now it looks like it will make its closest approach to Palm Beach County between 9 p.m. and midnight,” said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert with AccuWeather. “It’s going to be a close call, but I’d say the eye is going to come probably within 20 to 30 miles of the airport.”

Check The Palm Beach Post’s interactive tracking map. 

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National Weather Service forecasters in Miami used strong wording in their normally mild forecast discussion, saying “widespread and extensive” damage is expected along South Florida’s east coast.

Hurricane Matthew: What’s closed and canceled in South Florida

“South Florida residents need to rush their hurricane plans to completion by daybreak Thursday! Conditions will deteriorate rapidly Thursday morning and it will be too late!,” forecasters wrote.

While hurricane-strength winds are not expected in West Palm Beach until tonight, tropical-storm-force winds will begin about midday.

Related: Could Hurricane Matthew interact with Tropical Storm Nicole?

Hurricane Center forecasters said that Matthew’s minimum central pressure has plunged to 944 mb – an indication of deepening intensity as it builds strength in the warm waters of the Bahamas.

At 145 mph, Matthew will remain a Category 4 storm. Category 5 winds begin at 157 mph.

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Hurricane Matthew’s track changed little overnight, with the center expected to strafe the coast, coming closest to Melbourne before beginning a right turn that leads into an unusual curly-cue bending back toward Florida.

Hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen pleads not to focus on the center track and that dangerous Matthew could ram into Florida’s side anywhere from Palm Beach County to Jacksonville, or stay closer to the eastern side of the cone and further out to sea.

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“When a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do from Florida through South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to specify impacts at any one location,” Feltgen said.

Beachfront and Intracoastal areas, especially in northern parts of the county, could see three to five feet of water above dry land in a worse-case scenario. To the north, Cape Canaveral could see more than 6 feet of water if Matthew brings its worst to the Space Coast.

“Regardless of whether it makes landfall, a major hurricane is going to be very close to, if not on, the coast tomorrow,” said Greg Postal, a hurricane expert with The Weather Channel. “Little wiggles, in this case, do mean a lot for the track because it’s a compact storm.”

As of 5 a.m., hurricane-force winds extend out 40 miles from the center with tropical-storm-force winds extending out up to 160 miles.

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Max wind gusts from Hurricane Matthew in Palm Beach County still to come

As of 2 p.m., the wind gusts in Palm Beach County maxed out at just 36 mph at the Palm Beach International Airport.

Fort Lauderdale saw a maximum wind gust of 59 mph.

But forecasters are warning the strongest gusts won’t come through until around midnight and those could be more than 100 mph.

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