Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Matthew: Double Trouble

When the European weather model, delayed by an hour yesterday, showed Hurricane Matthew going around in a clockwise circle, first passing by Florida, going through the Bahamas a second time, and possibly making a direct hit on Miami next Friday (October 14), I was convinced that the Euro, which had kept insisting Matthew would not reach the Northeast by the weekend of October 8 and 9, had lost all credibility.
There's just one thing: The Global Forecast System and British Met Office service have models now dong the same thing.  Even the experts are astounded by this one.  Rather than show you images of the models here, I suggest that you go to and click on the forecast model page.  They can be animated to show movement.    
The reason for this is Tropical Storm Nicole, which formed just northeast of where Matthew is at this writing  and is preventing Matthew from going out to sea once it pulls away from the southeastern coast of the United States.  Matthew thus sticks around all of next week in and around the Bahamas and possibly affecting Florida again before finally moving out by October 14 or 15.  Nicole should stay out there long enough to ensure such an outcome.
So we in the Northeast can relax, right?  No, we can't!  No, we can't . . . because it could still come up the coast!  All right?  Here's the deal.  If, by the time Matthew is ready to pull away from the waters between Florida and the Bahamas, there's a dip in the jet stream that goes along the coast, the storm could theoretically ride up the coast and affect the Northeast, just as it was expected to only two days ago as of this writing.  We'd still get hit, just a week later than expected.  It's sort of like driving toward New York City on the helix overpass in Weehawken, New Jersey that leads to the Lincoln Tunnel, which goes under the Hudson River into the city.  A motorist or bus driver going east to the city has to turn ninety degrees to the right and go south along the Hudson before making two more ninety-degree turns to the right to get back on course and then enter the tunnel to get into Midtown Manhattan.  In its own journey to New York, Matthew could do the same thing off Florida. 
Right now, long-term weather models show Matthew avoiding the New York area after completing a circular run through the Bahamas, going farther north and then either heading out to sea in an easterly (Euro) or northeasterly (Global Forecast System) direction by October 16 or 17.  But that scenario is too far off to have any confidence in, and a track up the coast eleven or twelve days from now - or sooner, even - is still possible.  And even if Matthew doesn't affect us in the Northeast ultimately, it's still on course to hit the Bahamas twice and hit Florida twice.  Which goes to show you that Joe Queenan said it best when he said that it is not true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger . . . what doesn't kill you now will only kill you later.

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