Florida’s Turnpike Remains Open; High Winds And Gusts Still Expected

Hurricane Matthew’s Track Toward Florida Moves Farther Offshore

Storm Could Still Wobble Closer To Coastline

The majority of Florida’s east coast remains under a hurricane warning this afternoon, this as Hurricane Matthew continues its trek into the Bahamas, and eventually into the Gulf Stream near Florida. The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast track has pushed the cone slightly to the east, which could bode well for drivers on Florida’s Turnpike, particularly in South Florida. The storm’s closest approach is expected late Thursday into Friday morning.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-05 11 EDT

Hurricane Matthew’s updated track puts the storm’s closest approach to Florida farther to the north, mitigating danger to drivers on Florida’s Turnpike. However, the storm still has plenty of time to shift direction once more.

The storm system has prompted emergency operations offices to open across the state, and many government offices and schools, particularly in communities along the eastern shore, will be shuttered Thursday and Friday. The Florida Department of Transportation has been holding emergency meetings with various state officials, including discussions with Governor Rick Scott and federal authorities. 

However, with the latest track pushing Hurricane Matthew to the east, FDOT will leave Florida’s Turnpike operating as usual, but with additional roadway patrols. There were “no toll suspensions as of yet,” said Chad Huff, an FDOT spokesman, via email. “All Turnpike service plazas are operating normally with food and fuel.”

Whether there is a decision to suspend tolls will depend greatly on whether Hurricane Matthew either strengthens or turns west into the peninsula. The current track still has the system coming perilously close to shore, but farther north than the early morning track, pushing many of the toll roads in Florida out of the most dangerous parts of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew wind field forecast 2016-10-05 8 EDT

The wind field projections for areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Even on its current track, the storm will likely stream tropical storm-force winds and higher gusts.

However, the NHC wind field forecast still puts much of Florida’s Turnpike under the lash of tropical-storm force winds. The likelihood of tropical storm-force winds hitting portions of Florida’s Turnpike remains above 70%, and as high as 90% along the Treasure Coast, which includes the communities of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Stuart.

The NHC’s next full forecast is due to be released at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.