Hurricane Matthew spares Gulf watermen tragedy; 21 deaths, millions evacuated along Atlantic Coast

by / Newsroom Ink on October 11, 2016

Gulf of Mexico, U.S. — Watermen in the Gulf of Mexico escaped devastation from Hurricane Matthew last week, while their east coast contemporaries saw upwards of 23 deaths and catastrophic damage from storm surge and high winds.

Matthew, at one-time a Category 4, was eventually downgraded to Category 1 by the time it officially made U.S. landfall with 75 mph winds southeast of McClellanville, South Carolina.

Satellite image of Hurricane Matthew from the National Hurricane Center..

Satellite image of Hurricane Matthew.

As Hurricane Matthew approached Miami, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott sent a dire, urgent call for the evacuation of millions of residents in its path.

“This storm will kill you,” Gov. Scott warned in a press conference. “If you live in an evacuate zone, you need to leave now. There are no excuses. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

Mattthew ravaged the southeastern United States over two days then gradually moved north, claiming lives in Florida (6), Georgia (3), South Carolina (3), North Carolina (10) and Virginia (1). Between 5 and 17 inches of rainfall was recorded up and down the Atlantic coastline, and winds as high as 107 miles per hour in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Margaret Henderson, executive director of the Gulf Seafood Institute, pledged support where her organization is able.

“The Gulf seafood community has rebounded from numerous natural and man-made disasters in recent years, so we understand what it’s like to dig out from the devastation,” Henderson said.

“We stand prepared to offer support from the Gulf if and when our friends along the Southeast coast require it,” she said.

The 2016 hurricane season is the most active and deadliest Atlantic hurricane season since 2005 thanks to Matthew. At least 1,111 people have perished.

According to Weather.com, Matthew activity formed from a tropical wave that pushed off the African coast, just southwest of the Cape Verde Islands on Sept. 25.

Three days later, Tropical Storm Matthew formed near the lesser Antilles; it became Hurricane Matthew late Sept. 30 and reached Category 5 intensity with 160 mile per hour winds. Matthew barreled down on Haiti on October 4 as a Category 4, and claimed more than 1,000 lives with its 145 mph winds. Damage across Cuba and the Bahamas is still being assessed with roads, bridges and homes destroyed.

As for the potential of a repeat this year, the Atlantic hurricane season runs June through November, with the busiest months being August, September and October. Of all hurricanes recorded from 1950 to 2013, 100% of the costliest and 90% of the deadliest, occurred during these three months, according to the National Weather Service.

Warmer water, more vigorous easterly waves and minimal wind shear all conspire to promote hurricane conditions during these months, experts say. Another two weeks remain in what forecasters consider the busiest hurricane days of October.

Nearly 60 tropical waves originate in the Atlantic annually, with an estimated 20% elevating to a tropical cyclone and even fewer reaching the largest scale as a storm or hurricane.

For now, Matthew remains a threat to eastern coastal communities as damage and flooding from storm surge present problem along the eastern Florida, Georgia and Carolinas shores.

The National Hurricane Center is publishing real-time characteristics of Matthew to this link including regional storm surge conditions found here. The historical track of Matthew can be found here on Wunderground.

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