Ryan’s Take: Devastating Hurricane Possible for Parts of Florida


A wobble west or a wobble east - the former means a catastrophic hurricane for Florida and the latter means a really bad - but not catastrophic storm for central Florida. Neither are great options. 

Hurricanes are fickle beasts. Their track is typically made up with occasional jogs right and left. A poorly timed jump to the west can result in a massive change in impact for a coastal community. The right (or eastern in this) side of a northern hemisphere hurricane is where you don't want to be. Stronger winds and higher storm surge are typically found right of the track. 

The worst part of a storm is the eyewall. The tightest pressure gradient and most violent winds reside around the eye. You can see the eyewall east of Miami near Andros Island this afternoon. The winds outside of the eyewall are violent - but the true core of the category 4 hurricane is right in that eyewall itself. 

All of this is why the track is so critical. The eye is only 16 nautical miles in diameter as of this morning's hurricane hunter flight into the storm. If Matthew passes 20 or 25 miles offshore the hurricane is bad for Florida but likely not a catastrophe as the most destructive winds will be offshore. If Matthew tracks inland - it's a nightmare for parts of Florida with destructive winds and major storm surge flooding.

The National Hurricane Center track for Matthew has been primarily offshore - but just barely! Any slight deviation to the west means big trouble for the Sunshine State. The midday GFS computer model is more concerning with a track that brings the storm inland - south of Cape Canaveral. You can see the worst of the wind in the eastern eyewall clipping the Kennedy Space Center and moving ashore north of there. The European model also shows this slightly inland track - bad news.

Florida residents need to prepare for a worst-case/inland track scenario. Let's all hope a more offshore path is what actually happens.

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