Sunday, October 9, 2016

Recap of Hurricane Matthew & Mid-South weather this week

Former Major Hurricane Matthew is finally headed out to sea, after watching it for nearly 2 weeks - from its genesis as a tropical storm with 60 mph wind on its first official advisory near the Leeward Islands, to the strongest hurricane on record so far south (just off the South American coast), through the hard right turn towards Jamaica and Haiti, to a brief landfall in far southwest Haiti that still managed to kill nearly 1000 Haitians (more than the past 5 Atlantic season combined), to a path through the Bahamas as a major hurricane, along its coast-grazing run up the Florida peninsula that could have been SO much worse if it had been 25 miles west, to the lashing and splashing of the Carolina coasting with literally TRILLIONS of gallons of water and a landfall on the SC coast, to a scary forecast scenario indicating a possible turn back towards the Bahamas, and - finally - being absorbed by a front that will take the post-tropical cyclone straight out to sea.

Here are some graphics and tweets that help tell the story:

The entirety of the wind swath associated with Matthew. Hurricane force wind was generated continuously from just off the South American coast through the Caribbean, Bahamas, up the coast of FL and into the Mid-Atlantic coast. (NHC)

A new inlet was even cut by the powerful wave action along the coast of Florida between St. Augustine and Palm Coast as shown in these before/after images from NOAA.

Rainfall amounts (radar-derived and gauge readings) over the Carolinas through Saturday evening. (WxBell)

Stunning visible image of Matthew at 2:20 pm Saturday from the Aqua satellite. Credit NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center.
In the end, despite what will easily be a billion dollar weather disaster for the U.S., it could have been so much worse, especially for Florida, which narrowly escaped 80-100+ mph wind gusts along an extensive length of its coastline (107 mph gust recorded on the far eastern tip of Cape Canaveral, which sticks out into the Atlantic by several miles and was observed 54' above the ground). In addition, the 4000-day major hurricane landfall "drought" continues on, as Matthew didn't officially make landfall until it was a minimal category 1 hurricane on the SC coast. The last major (category 3) landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma, just short of 11 years ago, in 2005. Here's a list of other factoids and records set by Matthew, courtesy of Colorado State University hurricane expert Dr. Philip Klotzbach.

Prayers go out to all of those affected, who have lost possessions, or perhaps even family or friends, in the storm. Hopefully no additional storms will affect land for the remainder of the 2016 season, which ends on November 30.

Locally, the coolest and driest air of the fall season is over us this weekend, leading to lows well into the 40s this morning outside of the urban core. Highs in the 70s with a northeast breeze and very low humidity are making for pleasant conditions this weekend. As we head into Fall Break week for many area families, another very pleasant day is on tap Monday before temperatures warm back into the 80s for the middle of the week ahead. Typical of fall though, dewpoints will remain low, meaning humidity will be at comfortable levels and morning lows will also be quite nice - in the 50s to near 60.

Precipitable water (PW) on Tuesday morning, according to the GFS model, shows relatively dry atmospheric conditions across the region. Values less than 1" (where green changes to blue in the image) are considered comfortable. (PivotalWeather)

Another cold front arrives Wednesday night with a slight chance of rain. Unfortunately, there are no good chances of much-needed rainfall in the forecast. Behind the front, we'll cool back down a bit into the 70s to end the week. The cool spells seem to be short-lived as well above average temperatures are expected to continue, on average, through at least the 3rd week of October. Even more reason to enjoy the cool when we get it!

GFS model forecast precipitation during our best chance of rain this week - Thursday between midnight and noon. Very low rain chances exist this coming week. (PivotalWeather)
Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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