National Hurricane Center releases final report on Hurricane Matthew

MIAMI – The National Hurricane Center has released its final report on Hurricane Matthew.

The deadly storm strengthened to a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale before making landfall October 4 along the coast of Southwestern Haiti as a category 4 storm.

Matthew was the first major hurricane and the first category 4 hurricane, to make landfall in Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The storm was responsible for more than 500 deaths in Haiti, making it the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in 2005.

After moving through Haiti, the storm moved northeast across the eastern end of Cuba and into the Atlantic Ocean between Cuba and the Bahamas. The storm was disrupted by the mountainous terrain of eastern Cuba and weakened to a category 3 storm.

Over the next 18 hours, the storm restrengthened to a category 4 storm as it passed approximately 25 miles off the coast of Nassau, Bahamas. The storm’s eyewall passed over the extreme western portion of New Providence Island and eventually made landfall as a category 4 storm near West End, Grand Bahama Island on October 7.

Click here for our full coverage of Hurricane Matthew

The storm turned toward the north-northwest and moved to approximately 30-40 miles off Florida’s eastern coast. The western edge of the storm’s eyewall clipped NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility. The storm weakened to a category 3 hurricane around 6 a.m. October 7, about 35 nautical miles east of Vero Beach, Florida and further weakened to a category 2 hurricane by 12 a.m. on October 8, about 50 miles east-northeast of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

Matthew moved north and remained about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Georgia early on October 8, spreading hurricane-force winds across coastal southeastern Georgia and southern South Carolina.

NASA satellite image of Hurricane Matthew

The storm then took a sharp turn to the northeast and weakened further into a category 1 hurricane. The storm then took a track nearly parallel to the coast of South Carolina and made landfall around 3 p.m. October 8, just south of McClellanville, South Carolina.

Matthew was the first storm since Hurricane Hazel in 1954 to make landfall in the United States north of Florida during the month of October.

The center of the storm moved off the coast by 6 p.m. and remained offshore of the coast of North Carolina through October 9.

The northwestern edge of the storm’s eyewall extended inland and brought hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rains to the coastal regions of the Carolinas, Outer Banks and Coastal Virginia. Sustained gale-force winds were measured in the Tidewater area, with hurricane-force wind gusts occurring well offshore. Sustained hurricane-force winds were measured in the Outer Banks. The strongest winds measured in the Outer Banks were sustained winds of 65 knots and a gust of 84 knots at Nags Head.

The storm brought heavy storm surge levels to the Outer Banks and Hampton Roads. The NOS gauge at the United States Coast Guard station on Hatteras Island measured a peak water level of 5.76 feet above Mean Higher High Water. Hampton Roads experienced levels approximately 2-4 feet above MHHW. The NOS gauge at Sewells Point measured a water level of 3.10 feet above MHHW.

 

The storm lost its tropical characteristics by noon on October 9 and eventually merged with a frontal system 12 a.m. October 10, about 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

It continued traveling northeast and brushed the coast of Nova Scotia late on October 10.

A total of 34 people in the United States died as a direct result of the storm — two in Florida, two in Georgia, four in South Carolina, 25 in North Carolina, and one in Virginia.

Despite being spared the full brunt of the storm, the southeastern U.S. experienced widespread wind damage, including damaged roofs and homes, downed trees and utilities, and flooding.

Virginia Beach officials reported very significant flooding and that almost every road in the city became impassable. Residents were even asked to cut back on excessive water use because sewer systems were unable to handle the excessive wastewater flows.

In Chesapeake, many roads were also flooded and rendered impassable. Pumps had to be installed in the neighborhoods of Elmwood Landing, Mill Creek and Culpeper Landing to help increase drainage.

On the Outer Banks, a large volume of tree debris in Southern Shores had to be removed from the town’s streets to allow for emergency vehicles to reach residents.  The town of Kitty Hawk experienced freshwater flooding from the heavy rains between highways US-158 and NC-12, and pumps had to be invoked in an effort to relieve the standing water.

Highway NC-12 from Kitty Hawk Road to Lillian Street was once again hit hard by overwash, causing new damage to the dunes and pavement. That area was closed and repaired in 2015 after Hurricane Arthur caused damage to the road in 2014.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the barrier island highway was also closed from Old Oregon Inlet Road in Nags Head southward to Hatteras Village due to “very high standing water throughout the area, especially in Hatteras and Avon, with deep standing water covering much of NC12 for the entire length of Hatteras Island.”

The town of Duck’s damage estimate indicated that a total of 543 properties were affected. City officials reported that, although many properties were damaged, the damage was relatively minor in nearly all cases

Click here to read the full report from the National Hurricane Center.