Hurricane Matthew remains an extremely dangerous storm in the South Central Caribbean Sea. It has dropped in intensity from a category 5 to a cat 4, but its strength and potential for destruction remains unchanged. It has only weakened slightly, a very small and unnoticeable difference.
This is a well structured system, moving over very warm waters with few obstructions.
It has good outflow in the upper levels and as long as this is happening , its a good indicator that Matthew is firing on all cylinders.
It may encounter some shear over the next day or so and it could drop a little in strength, but it was also dealing with shear a mere 24 hours ago and it rapidly intensified.
Intensity forecasting is extremely difficult so everyone in its path should prepare for the worst.
For our neighbors and friends in Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and even Puerto Rico, prepare to meet Matthew head on. Some will get it worse than others.
You will probably experience the worst of Matthew. Rain totals will be around one foot with some places getting as much as two feet. This will surely lead to flooding, land and mudslides.
Wind speeds are forecast to be over 100 mph. The southern coast will be impacted by large waves leading to dangerous surf conditions. Please finish your preparations now.
If the forecast track does not change, you will be on the northeast quadrant of Matthew which can cause as much damage as a direct impact. There is a chance for isolated tornadoes. Strong gusty winds will be an issue, as well as rain. Your forecast also calls for accumulations one to two feet which will cause life threatening floods. The coast will also be battered by strong waves. IF the cone changes, then you may get a direct impact from Matthew. Please finish all preparations now.
Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico:
You will need to watch the progress of Matthew. If the course changes and moves further East, then expect strong winds and plenty of rain. The totals can be over a foot. Flooding, land and mudslides will be a huge concern. Large swells along the Southern coast will also batter the beaches.
Puerto Rico will largely deal with some rain and strong surf along the southern coast.
Where is it going?:
The track is not set in stone. There are many variables that can impact it. The GFS model suggests it will come ashore over Jamaica and then move over Eastern Cuba. The ECMWF calls for a Haiti landfall.
The discrepancy between models grows more by 72 hours. Here the GFS aims for the Bahamas and South Florida, while the ECMWF makes a right turn taking the center east of the Bahamas.
These are just a few of the issues the forecasters at NHC are dealing with.
Add to that any westward slide of the Atlantic high that's pushing Matthew to the West, or a change in speed from the strong upper winds across the Gulf that are supposed to turn Matthew north, and days 4 and 5 of the cone can be completely off.
There are advisories for Jamaica and Haiti as of this update. I'm sure more will be added later today.
This cone includes the Bahamas and South Florida. Please, now is the time to review your preparedness plans and act accordingly. Right now you should be making sure you have what you need and are ready to act once advisories are issued for your area. Don't wait till the last minute.
I'm sure this cone will change a few times over the weekend, but South Florida specially should remain vigilant. This can be a very intense storm if it makes it here.