Hurricane Matthew Impact on SE U.S. Remains a Question

Posted on 03/09/2017 10:20 AM

Crop focus is on cotton, soybeans | Rainfall not currently forecast to reach far inland

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Potential impacts from Hurricane Matthew to the Southeastern U.S. remain somewhat of a question as forecasters with the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) note that when a storm like this tracks parallel to the shoreline but does not make landfall, "it becomes very difficult to estimate impacts this far in advance." 

Current status: Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph (185 km/h) with higher gusts. Matthew is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some slight strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km). 

Current path: A northwestward turn is expected to occur today as the ridge to the north of Matthew builds westward. This should steer the hurricane through the Bahamas and near the east coast of Florida during the next 48 hours.  After that time, the global models turn the hurricane northward, then northeastward when a ridge to the northeast of Matthew shifts eastward and a mid- to upper-level trough approaches the eastern United States.


Link to map

Track certainty is still uncertain: Only a small deviation of the track to the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of a major hurricane onshore, while a small deviation to the right could keep all of the hurricane-force winds offshore.  It will likely take another day or so for the potential impacts of Matthew in the United States to clarify. 

Rainfall: Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall amounts in the following areas:

Southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic...15 to 25 inches, isolated 40 inches 

Eastern Cuba and northwestern Haiti...8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches 

Eastern Jamaica...additional 1 to 2 inches, isolated storm totals 12 inches 

The Bahamas...8 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches  

Turks and Caicos Islands...2 to 5 inches, isolated 8 inches  

Northeastern Haiti and the Northern Dominican Republic...1 to 3 inches, isolated 5 inches 

Upper Florida Keys northward to coastal east-central Florida....4 to 7 inches, isolated 10 inches 

Middle to Lower Florida Keys....1 to 3 inches, isolated 5 inches

florida_keysImpacts to areas outside the US: Matthew is "likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, heavy rains, flash floods, and/or mudslides in portions of the warning areas in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas," according to the NHC.  

Hurricane Matthew has "degraded" since it has come into contact with the mounts of eastern Cuba and the eye of the storm is no longer discernible in infrared satellite pictures. 

Crop status: Following are figures from USDA's Crop Progress report and individual states on the status of cotton and soybean crops in Georgia, South and North Carolina:


Cotton Bolls Open

Cotton Harvested

Cotton Harvested Avg.

Soybeans Dropping Leaves

Soybean Harvest

Soybean Harvest Avg.

























Comments: There are potentially some areas along the coast that could be impacted, and as NHC forecasters note, the outlook this far in advance is not certain. However, the current forecast path may indicate less potential for the heaviest rains to reach inland and potentially cause issues for row crops in the affected states as coastal and inland flooding and moderate to heavy rains and storm to hurricane force winds will be expected.

Obama to get FEMA briefing. President Obama has canceled his planned trip to Florida Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew made a track for the Atlantic Coast, prompting Florida's governor to declare a state of emergency. Instead, Obama will visit FEMA headquarters on Wednesday to receive a briefing on the federal response to what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called "one of the strongest storms to come along in several decades."


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material; therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.




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