12 outstanding facts from the Hurricane Matthew report
Monday, April 10, 2017, 12:48 - On September 23, 2016, a vigorous wave pushed away from the west coast of Africa and moved across the Atlantic on route to the Caribbean Sea. By September 28 the wave developed a closed circulation, becoming a Tropical Storm. Then, only 36 hours later and after a period of rapid intensification, Hurricane Matthew formed 190 miles northeast of the island country of Curacao on September 29.
The 13th named storm, fifth hurricane and second major hurricane of a very active 2016 Atlantic hurricane season was born.
Mathew would go on to become one of the most devastating weather events in Atlantic history, bringing widespread destruction and affecting millions of people from the Caribbean to the southeastern United States and eastern Canada during its long 11-day journey.
Now, six months later, the National Hurricane Center released its final report on Matthew.
Here are 12 outstanding facts from it (all dates are from 2016).
1. Southernmost category 5 Hurricane
On October 1, while located just 80 nautical miles north of Punta Gallinas, Colombia, Matthew would become the southernmost Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin, surpassing a record previously set by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Click Play to Watch Below: Hurricane Matthew track
2. Low pressure of 934 millibars and maximum sustained winds of 165 mph
On October 5, 124 mph sustained winds where measured in eastern Cuba's Punta de Maisí observatory, the strongest land measured wind value. A gust of 174 mph was recorded in the nearby observatory of Jamal before instrumentation began malfunctioning.
Matthew’s estimated minimum central pressure of 934 millibars was first observed on October 4. This value is based on a dropwinds pressure measurement.Below: Footage recorded on cameras outside the International Space Station and posted on October 3 showed the scale of Hurricane Matthew on the day the storm was expected to reach Haiti and Cuba, causing severe damage. (Courtesy: NOAA/NASA)
3. Rapid storm intensification in less than 24 hours
Between September 30 and October 1, Matthew underwent a period of rapid intensification, with the eye of the storm contracting from 30 nautical miles to five nautical miles, and winds picking up 86 miles per hour to a peak intensity of 165 miles per hour.
4. First major hurricane to make landfall on Haiti in 52 years
Matthew reached a secondary peak intensity of 155 miles per hour on October 2 when the powerful Category 4 hurricane was located about 105 nautical miles south of Tiburon, Haiti. During this re-intensification phase, Matthew’s central pressure decreased to its lowest value of 934 millibars. Soon after, it would become the first major hurricane, and also the first Category 4 hurricane, to make landfall on Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964.Below: Over 335 people were killed in Haiti and thousands were displaced after the storm flattened homes, uprooted trees and inundated whole neighborhoods (Courtesy: Reuters/Oct. 6, 2016).
SPRING HAS SPRUNG: How will the season play out for Americans? Find out with The Weather Network’s 2017 Spring Forecast | FORECAST & MAPS HERE
5. Major storm surge along eastern coast of Cuba
Matthew’s massive circulation pushed huge amounts of ocean water over what is normally dry land. This storm surge flooded roads, homes and businesses along many coastal areas. Despite missing storm surge data for coastal areas of Cuba and Haiti, the values measured are remarkable.
In Cuba, storm surge of 10 to13 feet was observed along the southern coast of Guantanamo Province, resulting in saltwater inundation that extended inland more than 300 feet, affecting the towns of Imías, San Antonio de Sur, and Maisí. The surge was also accompanied by large, battering waves of 20-26 feet, with a maximum wave height of about 30 feet occurring at Maisí.Below: Beach erosion along Guantanamo coast, Cuba (Courtesy: U.S. Navy)
6. Storm surge floods Southeast US coastline
On October 9, while Matthew was moving east-northeastward to the south of eastern North Carolina, a combination of the cyclone undergoing extratropical transition and an increasing pressure gradient from an approaching cold front caused sustained hurricane-force winds over the Outer Banks and significant sound-side storm-surge flooding.Below: Estimate storm surge
The maximum storm surge measured by a tide gauge in the United States was 7.8 feet above normal tide levels at Fort Pulaski, Georgia. Matthew also produced storm surges of 6.96 feet at Fernandina Beach, Florida, 6.20 feet at Charleston, South Carolina, and 6.06 feet at Hatteras, North Carolina. Several tide gauges from Mayport, Florida, to Hatteras, North Carolina, as well as along the St. Johns River, measured their highest water levels on record during Matthew.
7. Intense precipitation and flooding on the island of Martinique
Hurricane Matthew poured large amounts of water producing intense flooding in several areas along its path, but Martinique in the Lesser Antilles, suffered some of the worst flooding in the region. The island nation received the brunt of Matthew’s heavy rainfall with 8.19 inches occurring in the southern portion of the island at Rivière-Pilote Stade, while 7.94 inches of rainfall was measured in the northern portion at Fond-Denis-Cadet. Although the amounts recorded are not as high as in other impacted countries, the orography of the island had a lot to do with the outstanding floods.Below: Rainfall totals for Martinique
8. 20+ inches of rain along Matthews path
Hurricane Matthew dumped a tremendous amount of rain in Haiti´s Tiburon peninsula where an official rainfall total of 23.80 inches was measured at Anse-à- Veau. Punta de Maisí airport on eastern Cuba ground, received 26.04 inches of rain. Across the Bahamas, amounts near 20 inches were measured from Inagua to Bimini. In the US, the maximum reported storm-total rainfall was near Evergreen in Columbus County, North Carolina, where 18.95 inches was measured between October 8 and 9.Below: Rainfall totals for U.S. Southeast
9. Major destruction and high death toll in Haiti
Matthew caused 585 direct deaths: 546 in Haiti, 34 in the United States, four in the Dominican Republic, and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. An additional 13 indirect deaths occurred in the United States, and 128 persons are missing and 439 persons were injured in Haiti. More than three million residents in the United States were evacuated from coastal areas, at least 380,000 people were evacuated in Cuba, 340,000 people evacuated in Haiti, and more than 8,500 persons evacuated from the southern regions of the Dominican Republic.
In Haiti at least 210,000 homes were either destroyed or severely damaged, with about 90 per cent of the houses along the southern coast of the Tiburon Peninsula destroyed. In the same general location, about 90 per cent of coconut trees were knocked down by Matthew’s Category 4 winds, and entire coffee and cocoa plantations were destroyed. More than 350,000 animals in the area were also killed. Matthew's intense winds knocked down power lines across most of the Tiburon Peninsula, leaving about 80 per cent of residents without power.Watch below: Hurricane Matthew Causes Severe Damage in Haiti's Jeremie (Source: YouTube/MinustahTV via Storyful)
10. Major destruction but no loss of life in Cuba
Despite registering some of the strongest winds and storm surge values and having thousands of homes damaged, eastern Cuba did not report any direct deaths. In the city of Baracoa, which was traversed by Matthew’s western eyewall, widespread structural damage to homes and other buildings resulted from the Category 3 winds and storm surge with up to 90 per cent of homes damaged or destroyed.See below: Satellite image makes Hurricane Matthew look like grinning skull
11. One million structures damaged and 3.5 million without power in Southeast US
The southeastern U.S. was spared from Matthews strongest winds as the core of the storm moved off shore. Despite the more favorable track, widespread wind damage to roofs, along with downed trees and utilities lines, still occurred from the Florida peninsula northward through the Carolinas.
Most of the structural damage was caused by the combination of storm surge inundation and inland freshwater flooding. More than one million structures were damaged by Hurricane Matthew, forcing businesses from Florida to North Carolina to close, and temporarily putting thousands out of work. More than 3.5 million customers from Florida to Virginia lost electrical power due to Hurricane Matthew’s effects.Watch below: Hurricane hunters fly into storm.
12. Hurricane Matthew makes the Top 10 list of destructive US hurricanes
According to the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) estimates of wind and water damage caused by Matthew totaled approximately $10.0 billion in the US alone, with a 90 per cent confidence interval of $2 billion. This makes Matthew the 10th most destructive hurricane to affect the United States.
A separate $5 billion in damage is the estimate of wind and water damage in other countries of the Caribbean together with the Bahamas.