Hurricane Matthew: Potential disaster looms in Haiti, eastern Cuba and
Andrew Freedman • October 3, 2016
UPDATE: Oct. 4, 2016, 8:05 a.m. EDT Hurricane Matthew made landfall at 7
a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning near Les Anglais, Haiti, according to the
National Hurricane Center. It crossed the coast packing maximum
sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, with an extremely low atmospheric
pressure reading of 934 millibars, indicating the fierce intensity of
the storm. Hurricane Matthew will continue to batter Haiti with
torrential rain, extremely strong winds and storm surge flooding
throughout Monday before moving on to Cuba and the Bahamas. Mashable
will have a new story on Hurricane Matthew later this morning.
UPDATE: Oct. 3, 2016, 9:01 p.m. EDT Hurricane Matthew intensified
slightly as it moved closer to landfall in western Haiti on Monday
night. While hurricane hunter aircraft found maximum sustained winds
were still at 140 miles per hour, the storm’s minimum central air
pressure had dropped from earlier in the day, which indicates
intensification. In addition, the storm has slid a bit northeast of due
north, which puts more of Haiti at risk from the worst of its rains,
winds and storm surge.
This is unwelcome news for a country where thousands of people will be
riding out the storm in temporary shelters with scant protections
against hurricane force winds and flooding rains.
Powerful Hurricane Matthew is moving north toward Haiti, Cuba and
eventually the Bahamas, bringing with it the triple threat of storm
surge flooding, several feet of rain and damaging winds.
The nation of Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is in line for
an extremely rare and extremely dangerous event: A Category 4 storm
making landfall while moving from the south to north across part of the
nation. The closest analog to Hurricane Matthew is Hurricane Hazel in
1954. Hazel also struck western Haiti, and it killed about 1,000 people
The storm’s angle of approach matters because it affects where the
strongest winds, rains and storm surge are directed.
In this case, southern Haiti stands to receive up to 40 inches of rain
from Hurricane Matthew, as onshore winds pile up air along mountain
slopes, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Extremely
heavy rainfall is also likely in the southwestern Dominican Republic.
The rainfall in Haiti will create a risk of mudslides in a nation still
recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake, which displaced 1.5
million people. The combination of steep mountain slopes and
deforestation makes Haiti vulnerable to deadly mudslides from heavy
downpours unconnected to hurricanes, let alone full-fledged major
hurricanes like Matthew.
According to the NHC, hurricane conditions with sustained winds of at
least 74 miles per hour are expected to reach Haiti on Monday night with
eastern Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas getting hit on Tuesday.
A damaging storm surge of 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels is
forecast for the southern coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz, with a
similar surge predicted for the south coast of Haiti. In the central and
southeastern Bahamas, a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is predicted. In
advance of the storm, the U.S. Navy has been evacuating non-essential
personnel from its base in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay.
The storm’s center is expected to pass to the east of Jamaica, which
puts the island nation on its weaker western side. However, even there,
up to nearly 2 feet of rain may fall, with a storm surge of up to 4 feet
above normal tide level, according to the NHC.
Over the weekend, Hurricane Matthew underwent an extraordinarily rapid
period of intensification, leaping from a tropical storm to a Category 5
hurricane in just 36 hours.
It has since maintained Category 4 status, and is forecast to remain a
powerful “major” hurricane of Category 3 or greater through Thursday
morning. However, hurricane intensity forecasts have a greater
uncertainty than track forecasts do, and the storm’s interactions with
land masses, such as Haiti and Cuba, could weaken it more than is
Where will Matthew go after the Bahamas?
The big question facing U.S. weather forecasters the next few days is
where Hurricane Matthew will head after it emerges from the Bahamas.
The National Weather Service has been going to extraordinary lengths to
try to answer that question, launching extra weather balloons from every
East Coast facility it operates in an effort to gather more data to feed
into computer models. In addition, the agency has been consistently
flying a specially outfitted Gulfstream jet, nicknamed “Gonzo,” ahead of
Matthew to sample the atmospheric steering currents that will affect the
storm’s intensity and movement. That data, too, is being fed into
computer models to improve their projections.
As of Monday at noon ET, computer models were projecting that Hurricane
Matthew would parallel the East Coast of the U.S., potentially making
landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina or even in South
Carolina, and also threatening New England in about five to seven days.
However, uncertainty is still high, largely because the models are
having a hard time agreeing on how large-scale weather features will
evolve that will help steer Matthew as it approaches the U.S.
As the NHC stated at 11 a.m. ET on Monday, “direct impacts in Florida
cannot be ruled out. In addition, it is still too soon to determine
whether, or how Matthew could affect the remainder of the U.S. east coast.”
Source: Hurricane Matthew: Potential disaster looms in Haiti, eastern
Cuba and Bahamas –