BOSTON (CBS) – There has been a dramatic shift in the forecast track for Hurricane Matthew in the last 12-24 hours.
First things first. Currently, Matthew remains a major Category 3 hurricane. The eye made a second landfall Tuesday night over the eastern tip of Cuba. Having briefly lost its main source of energy (the warm ocean waters), Matthew weakened a bit and the eye became totally obscured by clouds.
Well, that didn’t last long. By early Wednesday morning, the eye had re-emerged over the open Atlantic just north of Cuba and just to the west of the Turks and Caicos. From here, Matthew will begin to drift slowly northwestward, tearing through the Bahama island chain as a Category 3 or perhaps Category 4 storm for the next 48 hours.
Early Friday morning it will approach Florida’s east coast, just north of Miami.
Here is our first big question – will it actually make landfall in Florida?
There is a good chance that the eye will stay just offshore, continually feeding off the warm Atlantic and literally ride right along the coastline of Florida from south to north during Friday. This is a very perilous position for Florida’s coastal residents who will no doubt receive a tremendous amount of rainfall and damaging winds.
But the question remains, will the core/eyewall of Matthew stay just offshore sparing Florida the worst? Time will tell.
From there Matthew will continue its journey up the southeast coastline, skirting north-northeastward, just off the Georgia, South Carolina and finally North Carolina coastlines this weekend. Again, bringing torrential rainfall and fierce winds, but the location of the center and the strongest wind field remains in question.
NEW ENGLAND IMPACT
And now for the biggest development and most important piece of new information for us here in New England.
Your weekend is looking brighter – much brighter.
A cold front will sweep through here during the day on Saturday, this is not new news. It originally appeared as though this front, along with a digging “trough” in the east would capture Matthew and pull it northward from the coast of North Carolina. This would have meant a close pass or possibly even a direct hit on New England later this weekend.
While we cannot completely rule out this scenario today, it now appears to be very unlikely.
Under this new scenario, the cold front would come through Saturday with a chance of a few showers and then move harmlessly east.
Instead of capturing Matthew and drawing it north, it now appears the upper level winds (Jet stream) will kick Matthew back to the south and east, spinning it into a frenzy off of the southeast U.S. coastline.
From there, all bets are off. There is a good chance Matthew may continue to survive, spinning around in a loop-de-loop, waiting for some sort of atmospheric direction. It could literally head back south to the Bahamas or Florida in a weakened state or it may just spin harmlessly offshore for several days.
Either way, Matthew is going to be around a while.
I would urge that you don’t completely put your guard down just yet for this weekend. We would like to see a few more model runs with this new solution before declaring New England free and clear.
Matthew remains a very dangerous and powerful storm. If you have family along the southeast U.S. coastline or have plans to travel there in the coming days, please do not take this storm lightly.