Hurricane Matthew Update: October 7, 2016.
Hurricane Matthew continues to push north paralleling the east coast of Florida. The storm has yet to make landfall, but powerful wind gusts of over 100 mph have downed trees and caused power outages for nearly 1,000,000 people. Bands of heavy rain currently stretch as far north as South Carolina with flash flooding likely across the lowland areas. The hurricane has been reduced to a category 2 storm, staying just offshore, but the threat of storm surge flooding remains a critical concern.
Unease Growing Over Storm Surge
The storm is currently off the northeast coast of Florida, dousing the coastal town of Jacksonville. Storm surge flooding combined with heavy rain has already effected much of northeast Florida and Georgia, with–maybe–the worst conditions yet to come.
In St. Augustine (FL), flooding preceded the storm inundating much of the city’s historic downtown with knee-deep water. The storm surge in St. Augustine is projected to top 8 feet in some places as the water continues to rise. Nearby, the city of Jacksonville fears for an unprecedented event, warning residents of the potential for catastrophic damage. Officials are expecting storm surges as high as 9 feet and residents began evacuating days ago. According to the city’s mayor, anything over 3 feet is life-threatening. A major tropical storm has not impacted the city of Jacksonville in over a century.
Fears are also mounting for the Charleston area where the eye-wall is projected to potentially center itself over the Coastal Carolina city come Saturday morning. Officials are worried the flood levels could be near or even surpass those experienced in the October 2015 flood event which set historic records in terms of damage and lives lost. The nowCoast™ modeling of the potential storm surge by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows dangerous conditions far inland due to the numerous inlets and intercostal waterways. Interestingly, the storm is projected to move clockwise away from the Southeastern US coast and curl back around toward Cuba. Time will tell what else this storm has in store for an area that has historically escaped major hurricane impact.