Yesterday Hurricane Matthew strengthened to category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as it crossed the Bahamas. The eye of the hurricane passed just west of Nassau between New Providence and North Andros islands. Later in the day it passed over Freeport on Grand Bahama. Peak wind strengths at that time were estimated to be near 140 mph.
Matthew is now tracking very close to the Florida coast. Although strong winds and heavy rain are being experienced, the eye and thus the strongest winds are currently remaining just offshore. In recent hours a process known as an eyewall replacement cycle has been occurring. This means an inner small eye with very strong winds around it is replaced by a much wider eye with slightly less strong winds. Although the peak wind strength reduces during this process the area covered by strong winds can expand. Hurricane force winds are very close to the coast of Florida and the outer eyewall of Matthew is touching Cape Canaveral. A wind gust of 107 mph was recently recorded.
The hurricane is expected to continue tracking up the coast of Florida today and then start to bend to the right as it approaches the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. It is possible that the eye could remain just offshore which would mean Matthew technically does not make landfall over the USA. However, coastal areas of all three states are still likely to see impacts from strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge. Rainfall totals of up to 300-500 mm are possible with a storm surge of 1-3 metres in many places.
In the longer term Matthew will turn eastwards into the Atlantic Ocean and start to weaken. There is considerable uncertainty as to the track beyond this weekend, but it is possible a weakened Matthew will loop southwards and move back towards the USA or Bahamas.
Given the likelihood that Matthew will stay in the western Atlantic close to the USA for many days to come and a blocking area of high pressure over northern Europe is dominating the UK’s weather at present, Matthew is not likely to have any impact on the UK weather.
Nicole strengthened into a hurricane yesterday and is located in the Atlantic Ocean to the east of Matthew. It is expected to move slowly and erratically for the next few days. Some interaction with Matthew is possible in a few days time which increases the uncertainty in the forecast track of both hurricanes.
Elsewhere in the world
Tropical Storm Aere is currently located to the south-east of Hong Kong. It may strengthen to a typhoon and is forecast to move very slowly just offshore of southern China. At this stage it is difficult to say whether any land areas will be directly affected.
Another tropical storm is expected to develop soon in the western North Pacific, but well away from land. Even if the storm develops and becomes a typhoon interaction with land looks unlikely based on latest forecasts.
Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are issued by the US National Hurricane Center. In the western North Pacific warnings are issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.