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Matthew now a Category 3 hurricane in the Caribbean

Matthew rapidly intensified overnight in the Central Caribbean. Winds are now 115 mph and it is
forecast maintain this strength for the next few days.  It is battling some wind shear, but that hasn't weakened the storm.

There is a ridge of high pressure to the north of Matthew that is steering it to the west to WSW for the next day or so with a slower forward speed.  Then the ridge will weaken over the Atlantic, and a trough of low pressure will move over the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern U.S. This will cause Matthew to turn to the north, and head toward Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.  However, there is some disagreement with the forecast models as to where and when it will turn to the north.  The ECMWF (Euro) and the UKMET show it more to the east and the GFS and other show it a little more to the west. The NHC has taken a middle of the road approach to the model spread.  This shows it moving just east of Jamaica early Monday Morning and over Eastern Cuba early Tuesday Morning. Then it will move over the Bahamas.

At the same time, the wind shear is forecast to be weaker and it will be moving over very warm water.  This will allow Matthew its major hurricane or Cat. 3 status with 115 mph winds as it moves by Jamaica and makes a landfall over Eastern Cuba next week.

Now the question is how fast will Matthew be moving, and where will it go once it emerges off Cuba.  The forecast models are not in agreement at this time. The latest trend seen in the spaghetti plots show that the hurricane will likely move to the north and be east of Florida. Then continue northward toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then turn out to sea.  However, since there is a lot of uncertainty, there is little confidence in the extended forecast.

I can't rule out Matthew impacting the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, but it is looking less likely at this time. One great thing we have going for us is that another cold front is forecast to move through late next week, and IF Matthew would head toward the Gulf, the front would keep Matthew in the Eastern Gulf.  Again, I can't totally dismiss the Gulf yet, but it is looking less likely of that happening!  Once it makes the northward turn, then we will have a better feel of where it will be going.

Needless to say, we will still keep a close eye on the evolution of the hurricane.  Stay tuned for updates. -Dave

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