As of Wednesday morning, Matthew was a Category 3 storm and gaining strength after its passage over Haiti and Cuba. Moving northwest at 12 mph, it is predicted to approach land by Thursday evening; computer models are projecting a path that would take Matthew along the Florida coast with potential landfall Thursday night into Friday near Melbourne, and then a turn out into the Atlantic on Saturday.
|Radar of Matthew early Thursday morning via Stone WeatherSTEM|
Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered an evacuation of coastal areas, with lane reversals on Interstate 26 all the way up to Columbia. Hotels here in Greenville are full, with many locals hosting friends and relatives as the state buckles in for the storm. Having already declared a state emergency, Haley said there will be 3,700 officers plus 1,800 National Guard members on hand to assist in the evacuation. Schools in the southern and eastern counties as well as government offices are closed as of yesterday.
In addition to the 315 school buses from Greenville that traveled to North Charleston Wednesday morning, the Upstate is readying to house evacuees at various public buildings and convention centers. The majority will go to Anderson and Spartanburg counties, and if those shelters reach capacity, Greenville County high schools will be used to house those in need.
“Our goal is to save everybody that we can," Gov. Haley said. "What I will tell those people who are thinking about not leaving is if you think you can take care of yourself, then at least think about my law enforcement and my National Guardsmen because they are going to be the ones who have to go out and try and get you. And you are putting their lives at (risk)."
Tuesday's sky here in Greenville via WeatherSTEM
This morning Gov. Haley is expected to order the evacuation of additional counties, and the flow of people north will continue on to Charlotte and Asheville where there are hotel rooms still available. As for us, it’s business as usual other than cancelled weekend plans.
Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful Atlantic tropical storm in nearly a decade, Category 3 Katrina responsible for 1,836 deaths and causing an estimated $100 million in damages back in 2005. The most intense hurricane to hit the East Coast north of Florida (since 1900) was Hugo in 1989, which reached Category 4 status before coming ashore on Sullivan’s Island. When adjusted for inflation, Hugo caused almost $13 billion in damages.
|Vero Beach after Hurricane Jeanne|
My last hurricane experience was Hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest hurricane in 2004, killing 3,025 on its path from the Bahamas to Florida. Unbelievably, it came ashore just 2 miles from where Hurricane Francis had struck 3 weeks earlier, tripling up with the rainfall from Hurricane Ivan to bring flood levels all the way up in WV and NJ. I was working for the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the time, and was deployed to help clear roads and tarp roofs in Vero Beach; it was a miserable couple of weeks running a chainsaw and hopping up and down from roofs. I’m happy to sit this one out, but my thoughts will be with all my former colleagues and friends as they descend to the coast after Matthew runs out of steam.
|Hurricane Jeanne detail|
If you are interested in what is going on here in Greenville, real-time, check out the Stone Academy weather station and sky cam. According to the WeatherSTEM data, we’ve only received 0.04 inches of rain in the last 42 days; still, I am hesitant to admit I hope that we at least get some precipitation out of Matthew. We'll be watching the radar through the Stone site (the data from Stone is fed to weatherunderground.com and helps form the forecast for our area!) and watching each day’s sky footage of the sky on youtube; the day's video is made into a 30 second movie that I find mesmerizing to watch. We might just hop over to the skycams from Florida to watch the storm approach, but in any case, it will be interesting to see what happens the next few days as Matthew visits the US.