That was the dire warning Florida governor Rick Scott gave today in advance of the dangerous and deadly category four Hurricane Matthew’s arrival to his state tomorrow. Currently, the storm is packing 145 mph winds with gusts up to 165 mph.
Hopefully, people will heed the evacuation orders and take the threat seriously. This isn’t hype, it’s real and the things the Governor said are meant to scare the complacent into action.
Those moving inland need to be aware of the often overlooked feature of land-falling hurricanes: tornadoes. Often, small, but powerful twisters develop in the spiraling outer bands of the hurricane. This happened just recently with hurricane Hermine’s arrival. Several tornadoes occurred in southern Georgia more than a hundred miles from where the storm came ashore on Florida’s panhandle.
WeatherCall recently aided a senior center in Savannah during Hermine, providing accurate and timely information that prevented an unnecessary evacuation of vulnerable residents. The instant call and text they received showed them a tornado warning, while in their county, was NOT impacting their location. Its the kind of life-saving information no one in the path Matthew should be without. It easy to sign by simply texting the word ‘storm’ to 21000.
FLORIDA FEELS IT FIRST
The noon update from the National Hurricane Center indicates the storm is about 160 miles from West Palm Beach and the outer bands of the storm could begin to lash south Florida later tonight. It is expected to be west of Freeport in the Bahamas by 8 pm tonight, putting them in the worst possible location. Up to 12 inches of rain may fall, leading to flooding, not to mention the additional 10 foot storm surge.
The latest track has Matthew brushing along the Florida coast before heading toward Georgia and South Carolina by the end of the weekend. After that, it may curve back into the Atlantic and some models indicate it could strike Florida again by the beginning of next week. Here’s the latest track:
Having been a broadcast meteorologist on the air during the destructive Hurricane Ike in 2008, I know the challenges of spurring coastal residents into action, Its been over ten years since a major hurricane hit the Sunshine State, Wilma in 2005. Millions more have moved there, never having faced the menace Matthew poses.
Even long-time residents often feel that they can “ride it out”. Sure – ride out the hour-by-hour battering of the wind on your windows, doors and roof. The persistent whistling sound of the wind, getting higher and higher pitched as the winds increase. Then eventually hearing a crashing noise. Was is something thrown by the wind or knocked over by it?
Beyond trying to endure the storm, there’s the aftermath and the issue no one seems to talk much about – power outages. Even those far from the direct impact zone of the hurricane will be without power for anywhere from several weeks to a month.
Hopefully, those impacted have been preparing. Many consider a hurricane a “summer-time” phenomenon and we are well into fall. Matthew’s arrival should be a stern reminder of the vigilance needed during the six month long, season that began in June.
Look for updates on this storm over the next few day