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Shifting West: Matthew May Not Miss Florida

The flip-flopping continues. The question is, will the shift noted Monday in nearly all reliable forecast models stick?  The National Hurricane Center shifted their forecast track of Major Hurricane Matthew considerably, as of their 5 p.m. advisory Monday afternoon.

Slow-moving, intense hurricanes are notorious for erratic storm paths.  Matthew has more recently been steered northward around the western periphery of a high pressure system to its northeast.  This same weather system is forecast to grow stronger and expand to the west, forcing Matthew to slow down and make another turn by Wednesday. This turn puts it on a trajectory very close to Florida by Thursday.

Key Takeaways Severe impacts to Haiti, eastern Cuba and Bahamas expected through Wednesday. Recent shift in models bring official forecast track closer to Florida, but center still just offshore "Direct hurricane impacts" possible in Florida Thursday and Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A considerable amount of uncertainty still surrounds the eventual fate of Matthew, including how it will traverse the islands of Cuba and The Bahamas, how far northwest it will track before making yet another turn to the northeast, and how geographically large the system will become.  All of these changeable traits will factor into how significant the impacts will be to the Atlantic coast of Florida and points just inland as Matthew passes by.

It may not be until Wednesday before specifics on rain, wind, and possibly surge may occur as a result of Matthew. Regardless of how close the storm gets to the coast, there will be high surf, waves up to 10 feet, a deadly risk of rip currents, and minor coastal flooding in the hours leading up to Matthew’s approach.  The storm is forecast to pull away from the state by Saturday.

Jeff Huffman is Chief Meteorologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In addition to his full-time position at the university's radio and television stations, WUFT-FM/TV and WRUF-TV, the latter of which he co-founded, Huffman also provides weather coverage to public radio stations throughout Florida