Matthew on the Verge of Category 5 Status; Long-term Outlook Remains Uncertain

Matthew rapidly intensified into a category 4 hurricane today.

11:00PM EDT UPDATE: Matthew is now a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per-hour. 

Position and intensity

As of the 8:00PM EDT advisory Matthew was located at 13.5 degrees north and 72.0 degrees west. Maximum sustained winds were 150 miles per-hour, the minimum central pressure was 945 millibars, and movement was to the west-southwest at 9 miles per-hour.

Short-term forecast

Details regarding Matthew’s track and intensity are fairly strait forward.

Short-term forecast track

Matthew is presently being steered west-southwest by a strong ridge of high pressure. This ridge will allow Matthew to continue tracking west-southwest until it reaches the Central Caribbean tomorrow. Then, sometime late tomorrow the ridge will erode,  and Matthew will begin to feel the influence of a trough over the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, causing Matthew to slow down significantly and turn to the northwest.

9/30/16 5PM EDT forecast cone for Mathew
9/30/16 5PM EDT forecast cone for Mathew

Then, on Sunday, Matthew should begin to turn to the north-northwest and then to the north. Matthew should continue moving north through at least Tuesday, making landfall in Jamaica Monday, and in East Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday.

By late Tuesday Matthew should be located just north of East Cuba in the Bahamas.

Short-term intensity forecast

Matthew will continue to intensify through tonight, and could very possibly become a category 5 hurricane.  However, tomorrow Matthew will likely weaken slightly, but should re-intensify Sunday and Monday on its approach to Jamaica and Cuba.

Long-term forecast

Details regarding both Matthew’s track and intensity beyond Tuesday remain uncertain.

Long-term forecast track

The GFS, ECMWF, and their ensembles (the GEFS and EPS) still disagree on Matthew’s forecast track beyond Tuesday.

The GFS and GEFS forecast the trough over the East Gulf of Mexico to lift out on Wednesday, and the ridge currently steering Matthew to remain build back in. The result of the aforementioned factors is Matthew essentially paralleling the entire East Coast.

gfs-mathew-3
GFS 500MB vort and heights valid 10/6/16

Meanwhile, the ECMWF and EPS are forecasting forecasting the trough over the East Gulf of Mexico to lift out by Monday or Tuesday, and the ridge currently steering Matthew to remain build back in. The result of the aforementioned factors is Matthew essentially meandering around in the Bahamas through next weekend.

Long-term intensity forecast

The GFS, ECMWF, GEFS, and EPS are all in agreement on Matthew remaining a major hurricane over the Southwest Atlantic next week. However, the exact details regarding Matthew’s intensity beyond this weekend remain highly uncertain.

Summary

Details regarding Matthew’s track and intensity beyond Tuesday remain highly uncertain, and we don’t yet know if Mathew will impact the United States or not. But, we can say that at this time it does not look like Matthew will impact the Gulf Coast.

However, Matthew could still potentially impact anywhere from Florida to Maine; and since Florida is a Gulf Coast state, we will continue to provide updates on Matthew.

We will have another update out on Matthew tomorrow afternoon.