PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As Matthew continues to churn toward the Florida coast, many of the local NWS offices and media outlets in that area are using very strong language to warn those who may attempt to ride out the storm. This part of Florida, including the central and northern coasts, and part of Georgia’s coast, has not suffered a direct hurricane hit since 1898.
The NWS office in Jacksonville posted this in their most recent discussion:
“A major hurricane has not impacted this area in 118 years, since October 2nd 1898. There is NO local living memory of the potential of this event. If a direct landfall occurs this will be unlike any hurricane in the modern era.”
The NWS office near Melbourne warned of the threat of “loss of life” and “immense human suffering” for those that do not heed evacuation warnings.
Matthew is unique in it’s track for the Florida coastline. Often, you’ll see a storm make landfall, but then quickly move inland, where the friction over land helps to quickly weaken it. Matthew, instead, will track right along the Florida coastline for the better part of 24 hours, pushing immense amounts of water onshore and staying strong over the warm coastal waters.
Residents of our area have a recent storm to compare to Matthew, Superstorm Sandy in 2012. While Sandy did not officially come onshore as a hurricane, the storm surge flooding led to casualties and massive property damages. For reference, the worst of the surge with Sandy was around 7.9 feet. The NWS’s storm surge prototype for Matthew warns of storm surge potential greater than 9 feet from the Palm Coast through Jacksonville and into Georgia. The Jacksonville NWS office also has stated that this is now a “worst case storm surge scenario”.
When people think of a hurricane making landfall, they tend to think of whipping, damaging winds and heavy rain. But in reality, storm surge is the deadliest component of a hurricane. Our thoughts are with the people of Florida and Georgia as they prepare to endure this dangerous and historic storm.