Hurricane Matthew, a 145-mph Category 4 colossus at the time, had shifted into a track that paralleled the state. It was a route that put millions of lives and billions of dollars in real estate at risk.
And there was nothing standing in its way.
"Tracks heading perpendicular to the coast are far easier, because you know someone is going to get the worst of the storm, but with a parallel track, tiny adjustments can mean the difference between no impacts and devastation," said
A preliminary review of
"A paralleling storm is a nightmare. It's the worse-case scenario," said
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In fact, it's a cringe-worthy scenario studied by hurricane modelers. Researchers at FIU found that a Category 5 hurricane entering through the tip of the peninsula and hugging the east coast through
"That's what we would call 'The mother of all hurricanes,' "
That's what Franklin and his team were facing.
Because hurricane watches go up 48 hours in advance of a storm's arrival to give people time to prepare, Franklin said they were making difficult choices on when and where to issue watches.
Still, the decision to leave
"There were times we were certainly sweating it out whether that was the right decision, and thankfully it turned out that it was," Franklin said. "We have to make a judgment about how much risk we are willing to live with, because we certainly don't want people to get a hurricane by surprise."
On the flip side, Franklin said, if you warn people too many times, and then they don't get impacts, "you worry about what they will do the next time."
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Matthew's track forecast turned out to be incredibly accurate. The four-day forecast typically has an average error of about 230 miles, but an early review of Matthew's path shows an error of just 100 miles, Franklin said.
With Matthew so close to the shore, a 20- to 30-mile shimmy to the west would have been the difference between Category 1 winds and Category 2 winds, Franklin said. A 40- to 50-mile shuffle was the difference between Category 2 and Category 3, which the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale says can do devastating damage to well-built framed homes, snap or uproot large trees, make water undrinkable for weeks and cause widespread electrical outages.
A Category 4 like Matthew would cause catastrophic damage and make "most areas uninhabitable for weeks or months."
On Friday, northeast
"What if this did jog one more time to the left, because that's what it was doing, shifting left, shifting left, shifting left," said Salna about Matthew's swipe at
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