Daily Archives: October 4, 2016

Hurricane Warnings Go Up On Florida East Coast

Parts Of Florida’s Turnpike Within Warning Area

Some Central Florida Toll Roads In Hurricane Watch Areas

Hurricane warnings were issued late Tuesday night for most of Florida’s east coast, from Golden Beach, on the north edge of Miami-Dade County, north to the Sebastian Inlet in Indian River County. The hurricane watch area extends north of Sebastian to the border of Volusia County and Flagler County, just north of Daytona Beach. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are likely within the warning area within the next 36 hours. A hurricane watch means conditions may impact the watch area within 48 hours.

Hurricane Matthew's 11 p.m. forecast track

Hurricane Matthew, weakened slightly from its encounter with the eastern tip of Cuba, remains a category 4 hurricane.

Florida’s Turpnike, one of the main evacuation routes for South Florida, in the event of a direct impact, or even a glancing blow, is well inside the warning area. Most of its southern leg, from Fort Pierce, in St. Lucie County, to the start of the Homestead Extension in Miramar, are only a few miles from the coast. Much of that area is now likely to be impacted by high tropical-storm force winds and, potentially, hurricane force winds, according to the latest forecasts. Hurricane-force gusts are likely, in any case.

Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise and the Florida Department of Transportation have already been ordering construction crews to tied down equipment at construction sites. Lane barricades and barrels were ordered removed Tuesday night to prepare for added traffic. The decision to suspend tolls on Florida’s turnpike and elsewhere may come Wednesday, according to Chad Huff, from FDOT. Officials had not made that decision late Tuesday night.

Tropical storm force wind speed forecasts

The graph, issued by the National Hurricane Center, shows the likelihood of being hit by tropical-storm force winds over the next five days. According to the graph, Florida’s Turnpike is increasingly likely become too dangerous to drive by Thursday.

The Beachline Expressway’s eastern-most leg fell within a hurricane watch area Friday evening, as well. The toll road’s length traverses central Florida from Orlando to the eastern end of Brevard County, ending at US-1 in Cocoa, which became part of the watch areas late Tuesday. A spokesman for the Central Florida Expressway Authority, Brian Hutchings, said any decisions about suspending tolls on the Beachline would be issued by the Florida’ governor, not CFX.

While Hurricane Matthew has weakened some during its trek across the western tip of Cuba, the storm remains a category 4 hurricane, with winds topping out at 130 miles per hour, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds extend outward 45 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical storm-force winds extend 175 miles from the eye.

Florida Braces For Tropical Tango As Matthew Forecast To Glide Along Coast

Hurricane Watch Area Expands; Transportation Department Braces For Major Hurricane

Tropical Storm Nicole Forms In Atlantic Basin, Adding To Forecaster’s Woes

The National Hurricane Center's 8 p.m. interim update shows the track of Hurricane Matthew shifting father west, putting more inland Florida under a hurricane watch.

The National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. interim update shows the track of Hurricane Matthew shifting father west, putting more inland Florida under a hurricane watch.

Much of Florida’s Turnpike now sits inside a hurricane watch area, now that the National Hurricane Center has issued its 8 p.m. interim advisory on Hurricane Matthew. The NHC forecast track continues to shift to the west, which compelled the agency to add more areas of inland Florida to the hurricane watch area.

Meanwhile, the Florida governor’s office today consulted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration and Florida Department of Transportation as emergency preparations for Matthew continue. The FDOT has ordered all construction to halt on all roadways, including all toll roads, in watch areas. Additionally, all construction barriers are being removed on travel lanes that can be reopened. The latter is preparation for potential evacuations, which could be ordered if Matthew’s track shifts farther to the west.

While Hurricane Matthew is forecast to remain offshore of Florida, the NHC’s most recent track has shifted the storm’s path farther west, bringing the storm perilously close to Florida’s coast. While Matthew has weakened somewhat, and its wind field has contracted, hurricane-force winds still extend outward 45 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward for 175 miles.

Moreover, forecasters, already weary from tracking Matthew, are now issuing advisories for Tropical Storm Nicole, which formed in the open Atlantic this afternoon. However, it is not expected to pose a threat to the United States. A third system is also being monitored for potential development.

Hurricane Matthew wind speed probabilities as of 2pm EDT October 4, 2016

The wind field forecast of Hurricane Matthew includes a significant risk to drivers, as tropical storm-force winds extend outward for 175 miles from the center of the storm. Note this graphic includes the track for the newly-formed Tropical Storm Nicole, right, as well as Hurricane Matthew.

All that means that Matthew, on its current track, will be delivering high winds and rain to much of Florida’s east coast beginning Thursday. That leaves only a day for authorities to finalize emergency plans, and that is if Matthew does not slide too far to the west, which could push outer bands and wind fields onshore sooner than expected.

The NHC will release its next full advisory at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Hurricane Matthew Could Impact Florida’s Turnpike

Turnpike And Other Toll Roads In Central Florida Could Be Affected By Massive Storm

Officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation said today they do not know whether there will be a need to change traffic patterns on Florida’s Turnpike as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Much of Florida’s east coast and most of the Florida Keys are under either a tropical storm watch or a hurricane watch, after the National Hurricane Center in Miami released its 11 a.m. update today.

NHC forecast track for Hurricane Matthew 2016-10-04 at 11AM EDT

The National Hurricane Center’s forecast track for Hurricane Matthew clearly puts Florida, and its toll roads, in the danger zone.

It is not uncommon for authorities to suspend tolls and route traffic in a specific direction, to accommodate evacuations. However, FDOT spokesman, Chad Huff, said it was too early to know whether a traffic a pattern change would happen or whether tolls might be suspended. Huff said he and other officials were very busy today in the face of Hurricane Matthew’s approach. “We wont’ know that until [Wednesday],” he told TurnpikeInfo.com.

Florida’s Turnpike runs through the middle of the peninsula at its north leg, but it turns to the east, just north of the Fort Drum Service Plaza, then runs close to Florida’s east coast, often getting within five miles of the coast. That is close enough to feel the impact of Hurricane Matthew. The storm is projecting hurricane force winds some 60 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds extend 185 miles from the center of the storm, according to the NHC.

Hurricane Matthew wind speed probabilities

The National Hurricane Center’s forecast for wind speeds over the next five days shows most of Florida’s east coast will confront tropical storm force winds.

In Central Florida, where hurricane watches apply along the coastline, up to the Brevard County-Volusia County border, Hurricane Matthew could still create high winds and dangerous rain conditions well inland, affecting the Beachline Expressway, which runs from Interstate 95 west to Orlando. Any decision to alter traffic or suspend tolls on the Central Florida Expressway roads, however, will still come from the Florida governor’s office, said Brian Hutchings, spokesman for the CFX in Orlando.

However Hutchings did note decisions will be made in the next day about whether to shut down construction operations along the CFX toll roads. He said if such a decision is made, workers would spend the day Wednesday “buttoning up work areas and making sure anything that could go airborne is either tied down or removed from the site.”

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, declared a state of emergency late Monday, after the track for Hurricane Matthew shifted considerably to the west.  Scott observed that Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful storm to threaten the Sunshine State in nearly a quarter of a century. While a host of hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the state in that time, none has had the potential for such extreme damage as Hurricane Matthew. “If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven’t seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992,” Governor Scott told reporters Monday.

Editor’s note: This story has been modified to include the comments of Brian Hutchings from the Central Florida Expressway Authority.