Tag Archives: Jamaica

Tropical Storm Kirk Brings Rain to Lesser Antilles

Tropical Storm Kirk brought rain to some of the Lesser Antilles on Friday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Kirk was located at latitude 13.8°N and longitude 63.6°W which put it about 360 miles (575 km) south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Kirk was moving toward the west-northwest at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.  All Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches have been discontinued.

An upper level trough over the Caribbean Sea is producing strong westerly winds which is blowing over the top of Tropical Storm Kirk.  Those winds are causing strong vertical wind shear, which is causing the strongest thunderstorms to occur on the far eastern side of the circulation.  Bands west of the center of circulation and near the center consist primarily of showers and lower clouds.  The center of circulation is over the eastern Caribbean Sea and the heavy rain is falling hours after the center passed the Lesser Antilles.  Locally heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move through an environment that will be unfavorable for intensification during the weekend.  Kirk will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  However, the upper level trough will continue cause strong vertical wind shear for the next several days.  Tropical Storm Kirk will likely weaken to a tropical depression or a tropical wave during the next 24 to 48 hours.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move south of a subtropical high pressure system that is over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Kirk in a general west-northwesterly direction during the weekend.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Kirk should stay south of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  Kirk or its remnants could be near Jamaica in a few days.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen Prompts Warnings for Cuba and Bahamas

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen prompted the governments of Cuba and the Bahamas to issue Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches for portions of those countries on Friday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen was located at latitude 17.5°N and longitude 84.5°W which put it about 415 miles (670 km) south-southwest of Havana, Cuba.  It was moving toward the north-northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, La Habana, Ciudad de la Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Villa Clara.  Tropical Storm Warnings were also issued for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Tropical Storm Watches were issued for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance plane investigated the system formerly known as Invest 93L on Friday afternoon.  The plane found sustained winds to tropical storm force.  The plane also found a broad circulation center with several smaller centers of circulation revolving around inside the broader center.  Based on the observations from the plane, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) chose not to upgrade the system to Tropical Storm Philippe in its 5:00 p.m. EDT advisory.  However, NHC did change the designation of the system from Invest 93L to Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen.  If a more well defined center of circulation develops, then NHC could still change designation of the system to Tropical Storm Philippe.

The circulation of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is still organizing.  As mentioned above, there is a broad center of counterclockwise rotation.  There are also several smaller counterclockwise swirls within the broader center.  More showers and thunderstorms developed closer to the center of circulation on Friday afternoon.  The storms closer to the center of circulation were generating some upper level divergence which was pumping away mass to the northeast of the system.  Some bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing in the outer portions of the circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The system is embedded in a flow over warm moist air.  However there is a stationary front northwest of the system and there is cooler, drier air north of the stationary front.  The system is currently under the western side of an upper level ridge.  The upper level winds are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen could slowly intensify during the next 24 hours as the circulation becomes more well organized.

The ridge east of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is steering the system toward the north-northwest.  That general motion should continue for another six to twelve hours.  An upper level trough will approach the system from the west on Saturday and the trough will start to steer it more toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will approach Cuba on Saturday afternoon.  The center of the system will move south of the Florida Keys on Saturday night and it could move across the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.

The system will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to those locations.  The locally heavy rain could cause flooding.  There could be a storm surge of several feet (one to two meters) on parts of the south coast of Cuba, where the wind blows the water toward the coast.  There could also be some storm surge along the coasts of the Florida Keys.

Tropical Storm Harvey Weakens to a Tropical Wave

Tropical Storm Harvey weakened to a tropical wave on Saturday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Wave Harvey was located at latitude 14.3°N and longitude 71.8°W which put it about 765 miles (1230 km) east of Cape Gracias a Dios.  The wave was moving toward the west at 22 m.p.h. (35 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.

An upper level ridge east of Harvey produced northerly winds that blew toward the top of the former tropical storm.  A subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean produced strong easterly winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere.  The combination of northerly winds in the upper levels and easterly winds in the lower levels produced strong vertical wind shear which disrupted the vertical structure of Harvey.  A reconnaissance plane was unable to locate a low level center of low pressure on Saturday evening and the National Hurricane Center reclassified the system as a tropical wave.

Tropical Wave Harvey will continue to move west across the Caribbean Sea during the next several days.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  So, there will be sufficient energy in the ocean to support a tropical cyclone. When the tropical wave moves under the core of the upper level ridge, the wind shear will decrease.  If the tropical wave moves into a more favorable environment and slows down, a new center of circulation could redevelop.  Models are not forecasting significant redevelopment of the tropical wave at the current time, but the National Hurricane Center will continue to monitor the wave for possible redevelopment.

NHC Monitoring Two Areas for Tropical Development

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) was monitoring two areas for possible tropical development on Thursday afternoon.  A strong tropical wave was moving through the southeastern Caribbean Sea and the wave was designated as Invest 90L.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Invest 90L was located at latitude 12.2°N and longitude 65.8°W which put it about 160 miles (260 km) east of Bonaire.  The tropical wave was moving toward the west at 18 m.p.h. (29 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55km/h) and there were gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.

Another tropical wave moved off the coast of West Africa on Thursday and NHC designated that wave as Invest 99L.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Invest 99L was located at latitude 10.2°N and longitude 20.9°W which put it about 370 miles (595 km) south-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands.  The tropical wave was moving toward the west at 18 m.p.h. (29 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1010 mb.

The tropical wave over the southeastern Caribbean Sea will have the most immediate impact to land.  The wave could bring gusty winds to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao within 24 hours.  The circulation of Invest 90L is elongated in an east-west direction and that is probably because of strong easterly winds blowing in the lower atmosphere.  There are some indications of a counterclockwise rotation on loops of visible satellite imagery, but it is not clear if the rotation extends all the way down to the surface.  The tropical wave is generating winds to near tropical storm force in the northern portion of the wave.  There are numerous thunderstorms developing along the axis of the wave.

Invest 90L is moving under the western end of an upper level ridge.  The ridge is producing southerly winds which are blowing over the top of the tropical wave and those winds are contributing to moderate vertical wind shear.  The strong easterly winds in the lower levels are also contributing to the shear.  Invest 90L could develop into a tropical cyclone when it moves farther west.  The shear could diminish and the Sea Surface Temperatures in the western Caribbean Sea and Bay of Campeche are very warm.  NHC is indicating that there is a 20% probability Invest 90L will become a tropical cyclone during the next five days.

The tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic has a better chance of developing into a tropical cyclone.  Invest 99L is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  It is moving under the eastern end of an upper level ridge.  The ridge is causing northeasterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the tropical wave.  Those winds are producing moderate vertical wind shear.  When the wave moves farther west, it will move under weaker winds and the wind shear will decrease.  NHC is indicating that there is a 70% probability that Invest 99L will become a tropical cyclone during the next five days.

Hurricane Matthew Crosses Southwest Haiti, Watches Issued for Florida

Hurricane Matthew crossed the western end of the Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti on Tuesday morning.  The eye emerged intact over the Golfe de la Gonave and the center of Hurricane Matthew is about half way between Haiti and the eastern end of Cuba.  At 2:00 pm. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 19.4°N and longitude 74.3°W which put it about 65 miles (105 km) east-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba.  Matthew was moving toward the north at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 145 m.p.h. (230 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 170 m.p.h. (275 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 949 mb.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast of Florida from Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County line.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys to Deerfield Beach.  Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Haiti and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas.  Hurricane Warnings are also in effect for the Southeastern Bahamas including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Ragged Island, and for the Central Bahamas including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador and Cat Island.  A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Cuban province of Camaguey.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos and the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Barahona to Haiti.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Puerto la Plata to Haiti.

Even after passing over the mountains of the Massif de la Hotte on the southwestern peninsula of Haiti, the structure of Hurricane Matthew remained well organized.  Matthew has a circular eye with a diameter of 24 miles (39 km).  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms.  The wind field around Hurricane Matthew actually expanded after it crossed southwestern Haiti.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Thunderstorms around the eye are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass in all directions.  Additional rainbands are rotating around the core of Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew is moving through a very favorable environment.  It is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is 30°C.  The winds in the upper levels are weak and the is little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Matthew could weaken slightly when the center passes over eastern Cuba, but it will likely restrengthen when it moves over the very warm water around the Bahamas.  Matthew is likely to remain a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. and it could become a Category 5 hurricane while it is moving over the Bahamas.  Hurricane Joaquin almost reached Category 5 while it was near the Bahamas in early October last year.

Matthew is moving around the western end of subtropical high pressure system, which is steering the hurricane toward the north.  That general motion is expected to continue for another 12 hours or so.  The high is expected to strengthen and extend west on Wednesday.  When that happens, Hurricane Matthew will be steered more toward the northwest.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Matthew will move across the eastern end of Cuba later on Tuesday and across the Bahamas on Wednesday.  Hurricane Matthew could be very near the east coast of Florida on Thursday.  Matthew could come very close to the coast of South Carolina on Friday and it could be near the coast of North Carolina on Saturday morning.  It is still not clear if the eye of Hurricane Matthew will reach landfall in any of those places.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Matthew is 29.8.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 19.5 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 49.3.  Those indices mean that Hurricane Matthew is capable of causing regional significant wind damage.  Matthew will also generate a significant storm surge over eastern Cuba and the Bahamas.  Water level rises will occur along the southeast coast of the U.S. where easterly winds push the water toward the shore.  Hurricane Matthew is stronger, but a little smaller than Hurricane Jeanne was in 2004, when Jeanne made landfall on the coast of Florida.

Hurricane Matthew Moves Toward Haiti, Threat to U.S. Increases

Hurricane Matthew moved toward Haiti on Monday and the threat to the U.S. increased.  At 5:00 pm. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 16.3°N and longitude 74.7°W which put it about 140 miles (220 km) south of Tiburon, Haiti.  Matthew was moving toward the north at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 140 m.p.h. (220 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 165 m.p.h. (265 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 940 mb.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Haiti and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas.  Hurricane Warnings are also in effect for the Southeastern Bahamas including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Ragged Island, and for the Central Bahamas including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador and Cat Island.  Hurricane Watches have been issued for the Cuban province of Camaguey and the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence, and for the Turks and Caicos.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Jamaica and the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Barahona to Haiti.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Puerto la Plata to Haiti.

The structure of Hurricane Matthew is well organized.  It has a circular eye with a diameter of 18 miles (29 km).  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.  Thunderstorms around the eye are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass in all directions.  Additional rainbands are rotating around the core of Matthew.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Matthew is 28.2.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 15.1 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 43,3.  These indices suggest that Hurricane Matthew is capable of causing regional significant wind damage to Haiti.  Hurricane Matthew is very similar in size and intensity to what Hurricane Dennis was when Dennis hit northwest Florida in 2005.  Hurricane Matthew is stronger and a little bigger than Hurricane Sandy was when Sandy was over the northwestern Caribbean Sea in 2012.

Hurricane Matthew is moving through a very favorable environment.  It is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  Matthew is likely to maintain its intensity as it moves toward Haiti.  If a rainband wraps around the eye, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause temporary fluctuations in intensity.  The future path of Matthew could have a big impact on the intensity of the hurricane.  If the center of Matthew moves over southwestern Haiti, then the Massif de la Hotte could seriously disrupt the lower levels of the circulation.  Mountains in Massif de la Hotte extend up to 7700 feet (2347 meters).  On the other hand, if the eye and eyewall move just west of Haiti, then the inner core is likely to remain intact.  The water around the Bahamas is very warm and if the core of Hurricane Matthew is reasonably intact when it gets there, Matthew will likely regain its intensity.

Hurricane Matthew is moving around the southwestern end of a subtropical high pressure system, which has allowed the hurricane to move just east of due north.  That general motion is expected to continue for another day or so.  In about 24 hours the subtropical high is expected to strengthen and extend westward.  If the high does strengthen, it will force Hurricane Matthew to move more toward the northwest.  Guidance from numerical models has supported this scenario today.  The northwest motion could take Hurricane Matthew over the Central and Northwestern Bahamas during the middle of the week.  A northwesterly track could bring Hurricane Matthew close to Florida on Thursday and near the Mid-Atlantic Coast on Friday.  Based on guidance from the forecast models, the threat to the U.S. increased significantly on Monday.

Hurricane Matthew has the potential to cause regional significant wind damage to Haiti.  Even if the center moves west of Haiti, Matthew will produce very heavy rain and the potential for devastating flash floods and mudslides exists.  There will also be significant storm surges along the coasts of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba.

Hurricane Matthew Moving Slowly North Toward the Greater Antilles

Powerful Hurricane Matthew was moving slowly north over the Northwestern Caribbean Sea on Sunday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 14.7°N and longitude 75.0°W which put it about 255 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.  Matthew was moving toward the north at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 145 m.p.h. (230 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 170 m.p.h. (275 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 943 mb.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Haiti, Jamaica, the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas.  Hurricane Warnings are also in effect for the Southeastern Bahamas including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Ragged Island.  A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Cuban province of Camaguey, the Central Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Barahona to the border with Haiti.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Puerto la Plata to the border with Haiti.

Matthew is a very well organized symmetrical hurricane.  There is a circular eye with a diameter of about 14 miles (22 km).  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms.  Numerous bands of thunderstorms are rotating around the core of the circulation.  The thunderstorms are generating well developed upper level divergence which is pumping out mass.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) is 29.9.  The Hurricane Size index (HSI) is 10.4 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 40.3.  The indices indicate that Hurricane Matthew is as strong as Hurricane Dennis was in 2005, but Matthew is a little smaller than Dennis was.

Hurricane Matthew will be moving through a very favorable environment.  Matthew will be moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  There could be some fluctuations in intensity, especially if eyewall replacement cycles occur.  Matthew is likely to remain a powerful hurricane.

Hurricane Matthew has reached the western end of a subtropical high pressure system.  Matthew is likely to continue to move north around the western end of the subtropical high.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Matthew could be near Jamaica and western Haiti on Monday night.  Matthew could reach eastern Cuba on Tuesday and it could be over the Bahamas on Wednesday.

Hurricane Matthew is capable of causing region significant wind damage.  It will bring locally heavy rain to parts of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.  Matthew will also create dangerous storm surges along the coast.

Powerful Hurricane Matthew Turns Northwest

After completing a tight slow cyclonic loop near the northern coast of Colombia, Hurricane Matthew started moving toward the northwest on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 13.8°N and longitude 73.6°W which put it about 360 miles (580 km) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.  Matthew was moving toward the north-northwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 175 m.p.h. (280 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 940 mb.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued for Jamaica.  A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the coast of Haiti from the southern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas.  A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the northern border with the Dominican Republic.  A Hurricane Watch is also in effect for Cuba from Camaguey province to Guantanamo province.

Matthew is a compact hurricane.  It has a circular eye with a diameter of less than 10 miles (16 km).  The eye is surrounded by a tight ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring.  Additional rainbands are rotating around the core of the circulation.  Thunderstorms in the core are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass to the east of Hurricane Matthew.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) is 31.6.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 10.3 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size index (HWISI) is 41.9.  The indices indicate that Hurricane Matthew is as intense and a little smaller than Hurricane Dennis was when Dennis was over the northwestern Caribbean Sea in 2005.

Hurricane Matthew will continue to move through a favorable environment on Sunday.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°.  An upper level trough west of Matthew will generate southwesterly winds which will blow near the northwestern part of the hurricane.  Although there will be some vertical wind shear, it may not have a significant impact on Hurricane Matthew.  If one of the rainbands wraps around the existing eye, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause a temporary weakening of Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew is moving around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system.  The combination of the subtropical high and the upper level trough to the west of Matthew should steer the hurricane toward the north-northwest on Sunday.  On its anticipate track Hurricane Matthew could reach Jamaica and southern Haiti on Monday afternoon.  Matthew could reach eastern Cuba on Monday night and it could be over the southeastern Bahamas on Tuesday.

Hurricane Matthew is a dangerous hurricane.  The indices suggest that it is capable of causing significant regional wind damage.  It could also bring flooding rains to parts of Haiti.  Hurricane Matthew could also produce dangerous storm surges on the south coasts of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

Hurricane Matthew Becomes the First Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane Since 2007

Hurricane Matthew continued its rapid intensification on Friday night and it became the first Atlantic hurricane to reach Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale since Hurricane Felix did so in 2007.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 13.3°N and longitude 72.3°W which put it about 440 miles (710 km) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.  Matthew was moving toward the west at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 190 m.p.h. (305 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 941 mb.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Matthew was 35.0.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 13.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 48.7.  These indices indicate that Hurricane Matthew is not as intense and slightly smaller than Hurricane Wilma was, when Wilma was a Category 5 hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean Sea in 2005.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Jamaica.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the portion of the coast from the Haiti/Dominican Republic border to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from the Colombia/Venezuela border to Riohacha, Colombia.

Hurricane Matthew remains in a very favorable environment of minimal vertical wind shear and warm Sea Surface Temperatures.  The intensity may fluctuate as a result of eyewall replacement cycles.

A strong subtropical high is steering Hurricane Matthew toward the west.  Matthew is slowing as it approaches the western end of the subtropical high.  It will turn toward the north when it reaches the western end of that high pressure system.  However, the location, time and sharpness of the turn to the north are still uncertain.  That uncertainty means that the longer term track of Hurricane Matthew is also uncertain.  We should get more clarity about the future direction of Hurricane Matthew during the next several days.

Matthew Rapidly Intensifies Into Category 4 Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew intensified very rapidly into a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as it moved across the southern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Matthew was located at latitude 13.5°N and longitude 71.6°W which put it about 75 miles (120 km) north of Punta Gallinas, Colombia.  Matthew was moving toward the west-southwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 140 m.p.h. (220 km/h). and there were wind gusts t0 165 m.p.h. (265 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 949 mb.

The Hurricane Size Index (HII) was 28.3.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) was 13.2 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 41.5.  The indices mean that Hurricane Matthew is very similar in size and intensity to what Hurricane Ike was when Ike was northeast of the Leeward Islands in 2008.  The indices also mean that Hurricane Matthew is capable of producing regional significant wind damage.

Hurricane Matthew is very well organized and it efficiently extracted energy from the warm water of the Caribbean Sea to intensify rapidly on Friday.  It has a circular eye with a diameter of about 15 miles (24 km).  The eye is surrounded by a ring of very tall thunderstorms.  The thunderstorms are pumping out large quantities of mass which allowed the surface pressure to decrease by 44 mb during the past 24 hours.  There additional bands of thunderstorms, mainly in the eastern half of the circulation.

Hurricane Matthew will remain in a very favorable environment while it is over the Caribbean Sea.  It could intensify further.  When hurricanes become as strong as Matthew strong, they sometimes undergo eyewall replacement cycles.  During an eyewall replacement cycle, a hurricane first weakens and then strengthens again when the innermost eyewall dissipates.  If eyewall replacement cycles occur in Hurricane Matthew, then the intensity will fluctuate.

A strong subtropical high pressure system north of Matthew is steering the hurricane toward the west-southwest.  That general motion is expected to continue for another 24 hours.  When Matthew reaches the western end of the subtropical high, it will start to move toward the north.  Guidance from numerical models is still divergent about the details of the turn toward the north.  If the turn is sharper, it could mean that Hurricane Matthew moves toward Haiti.  If the turn is more gradual, it could mean that Matthew heads for Jamaica and eastern Cuba.  The uncertainty is the reason why watches have been posted for both Jamaica and Haiti.

Matthew is a very powerful hurricane.  It is capable of causing regional significant wind damage.  In addition Matthew will produce very heavy rain and the potential for dangerous flash flooding.  There is also the possibility of a significant storm surge along the coast.