Hurricane Matthew heading toward the eastern Florida Coast

Hurricane Matthew

The Bahamas are taking on Hurricane Matthew as it moves northwest as a major hurricane.

As of the 4:00 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Matthew is a strong category three storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (m.p.h.) with higher wind gusts.

Even though Matthew has weakened over the last 24 hours, slight strengthening is expected as the storm inches closer to the eastern Florida coast and is expected to be a category four as it nears the coast.

After a few days, an increase in shear will cause the storm to weaken.

Matthew is tracking to the northwest and is around 205 miles south-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas and is expected to move toward the eastern coast of Florida by late Thursday night into early Friday morning.

The track is expected to continue to the northwest then to the north along the Florida eastern coast and then move to the northeast along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina by Saturday. Another tricky part with the forecast is that the hurricane may loop out to the Atlantic Ocean after hitting or nearly hitting Florida.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for areas in Florida, including north of Golden Beach to the Flagler/Volusia county line and Lake Okeechobee.

Hurricane Watches are in effect for Fernandina Beach to Savannah River in Florida and Georgia.

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a dramatic change in where the computer models put Matthew 3 to 5 days from now (Wednesday). The NHC says, “By the end of the forecast period, models diverge considerably, with the GFS moving the cyclone southwestward toward land, and the ECMWF keeping Matthew over the Atlantic a good distance from the coast. The NHC forecast keeps Matthew over water in the middle of these two model solutions.”

Keep in mind, do not pay attention to the center of the "cone of uncertainty." Any slight shift to the track of the storm can change this situation tremendously.

All in all, hurricane force winds can be expected for areas in the hurricane warnings and then possibly the areas with the hurricane watches.

The Gulf Coast weather will continue to be dry and hotter than normal. Cooler air is forecast for next week.

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