Hurricane Matthew may make catastrophic strike in Haiti; warnings in Jamaica & Cuba

FLORIDA, US–Hurricane Matthew is poised to deliver a potentially catastrophic strike on Haiti beginning today, Monday, and poses a danger to eastern Cuba and Jamaica by tonight. Matthew will then crawl slowly through the Bahamas for several days before potentially flirting with parts of the US coast beginning this weekend.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for much of eastern Cuba and all of Haiti and Jamaica. Hurricane watches were issued early Sunday morning for the Turks and Caicos and southeast Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay.

Hurricane Matthew is moving generally northwestward as a strong and extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, located about 320 miles south-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Matthew’s tropical storm-force wind field (at least 39mph sustained winds) extends up to 205 miles from the centre, and hurricane-force winds extend up to 35 miles from the centre.

Some fluctuations in intensity are possible over the next couple of days, but Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it makes its closest approach to Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas.

Here is the approximate timing of the worst wind and surge impacts, coinciding with the nearest passage of the eyewall of Matthew. Jamaica: Monday/Monday night;   Haiti/Dominican Republic: late Monday/Tuesday; Eastern Cuba: early Tuesday through Tuesday night; Southeast & central Bahamas/Turks & Caicos: Tuesday into at least Wednesday night

Small, subtle changes in the path of the eyewall, sometimes not resolvable until hours before the passage, can make a large difference on wind impact.

Note that even though certain locations may not be in the cone of uncertainty, impacts will be spread well beyond the edge of the cone.

Impacts, such as outer rain bands and some initial tropical storm-force gusts were expected to begin in Jamaica and Hispañola (particularly Haiti) as soon as Sunday night, and in eastern Cuba as soon as Monday, making preparations difficult.

Over a foot of rainfall from Matthew may trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. In Haiti, in particular, heavy rainfall could be catastrophic. Here are the latest rainfall projections from the US National Hurricane Center: southern Haiti: 15 to 25 inches, locally up to 40 inches; western Haiti: 8 to 12 inches, locally up to 20 inches; Northern Haiti: 1 to 3 inches, locally up to 5 inches; eastern Cuba, eastern Jamaica, the Dominican Republic: 5 to 10 inches, locally up to 15 inches; southeast Bahamas: 8 to 12 inches, locally up to 15 inches; Turks and Caicos: 2 to 5 inches, locally up to 8 inches

   As Matthew comes northward, both waves and storm surge will increase on the southward facing shores of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba. On the current forecast track, water levels will likely fall into the following ranges as indicated as amounts above normal tide levels: south coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz: 7 to 11 feet; south coast of Haiti: 7 to 10 feet; north coast of Cuba east of Camaguey: 4 to 6 feet; Jamaica: 3 to 5 feet; Gulf of Gonave (Haiti): 3 to 5 feet; south coast of the Dominican Republic: 1 to 3 feet.

Battering waves will ride atop the storm surge, and coastal flooding from large waves may begin well in advance and ahead of Matthew’s centre.

This storm surge will also limit rainfall runoff in some places, aggravating flooding, especially in coastal locations where swollen rivers cannot drain.

Hurricane-force winds, with peak timing as outlined above, will lead to widespread structural damage, particularly to poorly-built structures, numerous downed trees and widespread power outages. Due to wet ground, trees will be even more susceptible to being toppled.

It’s worth noting only six other Category 3 or stronger hurricanes have tracked within 100 nautical miles of central Haiti since 1954. The last to do so was Allen in 1980, though Hurricane Ike in 2008 passed within 100 nautical miles of the north coast of Haiti, and Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 did so within 100 nautical miles of the south coast of Haiti.

One possible analogue to Matthew is Hurricane Hazel, which swept through Haiti in October 1954, claiming 400-1,000 lives from severe flash flooding and landslides.

Beyond that, it remains uncertain how close Matthew’s eyewall will pass near the northwest Bahamas.

All interests in the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, US East Coast and Atlantic Canada should continue to monitor the progress of Matthew. Preparations in Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas should be well underway.

Matthew strengthened to a rare Category 5 late Friday evening, becoming the first Category 5 Atlantic basin hurricane since Hurricane Felix in early September 2007.

Hurricane Matthew became the fifth hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season early Thursday afternoon.

According to Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Matthew became the lowest latitude Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic on record (beating the old record set by Ivan in 2004). ~

Source: Daily Herald
Hurricane Matthew may make catastrophic strike in Haiti; warnings in Jamaica & Cuba