Friday, October 7, 2016

A Narrow Escape for Winds, but Not Surge

We are now up to 4001 days without a major hurricane landfall in the United States.

The center of Hurricane Matthew has yet to cross the coast of Florida and remained far enough offshore that most (maybe all) of the southern and central coastline escaped hurricane force winds.  The loop above shows tardar imagery from 1045–1840 UTC this morning and shows how the eyewall just grazed Cape Canaveral, which likely saw the strongest winds along the central coast.  I have seen reports of gusts on Cape Canaveral of just over 100 mph, but am not sure what the sustained winds were and if these measurements were taken at standard instrument height.

The strong winds of a hurricane tend to be very tightly wrapped the low center with the eyewall.  If the storm shifted just a bit west, the winds would have been far worse.  The track was about as close as you can get without producing hurricane force winds at the coast.

Although Matthew has weakened a bit, it is still a very dangerous major hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph .  The eye bobbled a bit closer to the shore near Daytona Beach and it could flirt with the coast again.  In addition, storm surge is a graver concern along portions of the coast to the north than it was to the south.  The National Hurricane Center warns of the danger of life-threatening inundation along the coast all the way to Cape Fear, North Carolina during the next 36 hours.

Enjoy a comparatively tranquil weekend here in the Intermountain West.


  1. Can't ever recall a Cat 4 hurricane with such a small wind field >74. Any explanation? The only gust reported above 100 was at the space center 100 ft AGL.

    1. Hurricane Charley had a smaller windfield, however, in this case due to track of the storm the bulk of the stronger winds (in the NE quadrant) stayed off shore which gave the illusion of a very small windfield. although I would have expected to have a few more sustained hurricane force reports (particularly since many of the sensors in that area of Florida are right on the coast with little surface drag. There were some Kennedy space center tower reports with 5 minute sustained winds of around 75-80 mph (although these were at 50 feet above the 10m standard they were also 5 minute averages rather than 1 minute averages).

    2. I should add the EWRC which was ongoing for a long period of time, likely helped knock the max winds down.