Tropical Storm Matthew is threatening hurricane strength in the Caribbean Sea, and likely will be categorized as a hurricane by this evening, according to USA Today. The National Weather Service is keeping a careful eye on Matthew and the havoc that may ensue in his wake. September is historically known for weather instability and the pop up of tropical storms and hurricanes, as cold air and warm air clash at the end of summer/beginning of autumn. Where they may pop up is anyone’s guess, but Matthew seems to be hanging out in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico.
Meteorologists say that Matthew may take a sharp northern turn and threaten the continental U.S. sometime next week. Tropical storms are known for flooding and damaging winds, which is more likely in coastal towns. If they upgrade to hurricane force winds, the threat increases as to loss of life and property. As of 8 a.m. today, Matthew was near Puerto Rico and had sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, which is just four miles under Hurricane-level winds. At that time, it was moving west at 13 miles per hour. As of right now, a tropical storm watch is in effect for the islands of Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba.
Matthew has already killed one person in St. Vincent. Power outages were reported in many islands including Bonaire and Curacao. Accuweather tropical meteorologist Mike Doll said that Matthew would strengthen before the storm dies.
“A northward turn is not out of line with climatology with systems in the Caribbean during this time of the year.”
That has a potential threat for the United States, many of which are seeing significant rainfall from an unrelated weather pattern. This could lead to dangerous flooding. People in low-lying areas should prepare for flooding, power outages, and to possibly vacate their homes, meteorologists said. Matthew may gain a wind speed of 100 miles per hour by Monday, when it could make landfall in the United States. The location of that landfall remains unknown, but that speed of wind would cause Matthew to upgrade to a Level II hurricane, which is capable of extreme damage.
The most damaging hurricane in recent memory for most people is Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005. The amount of destruction was record-breaking and left the residents of New Orleans in severe peril, with many losing everything they had, and dozens of deaths in the wake of the hurricane. The levees broke because of the extreme wind velocity and water pressure, which flooded the city at unprecedented speed and left many people on their rooftops. Although a mandatory evacuation had been instated before the storm, many people did not have the means to leave the city, particularly those of lower socioeconomic status. The storm, its aftermath, and government response sparked outrage across the United States, with major looting occurring and some police officers and other officials abandoning their posts in the wake of such havoc. Although experts had predicted that the levy system in New Orleans would not withstand a major hurricane landfall for decades, nothing had been done to improve the system. New Orleans still is recovering from Katrina eleven years later, with many of its residents permanently relocated to other towns and states.
Meteorologist Bernie Reyno offered his thoughts on the projected path and possible trajectory of Matthew, which most meteorologists agree will impact the United States in some manner.
“Even if Matthew moves northward across Cuba early next week, as we suspect it will, then it could still find a way to get into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”
Meteorologists suggest that people stay prepared with necessities like flashlights and bottled water, and carefully monitor the storm’s path to determine if they are in danger.
[Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images]