Matthew Clears Cuba, Sets Course For Bahamas And Florida

Storm Is Weakend From Track Across Cuba

System Expected To Strengthen Before Coming Near Florida Coast

The track of Hurricane Matthew saw the storm clear the island nation of Cuba during the early morning hours today, as the storm set its sights on the Bahamas and, next, Florida. Forecasters have downgraded the storm to a category 3 hurricane, but no further weakening is expected. In fact, forecasters believe the system will strengthen some as it traverses the Bahamas, following the path of least resistance through the island nation. By Thursday morning, the storm is expected to be off the coast of Florida.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track

Hurricane Matthew is expected to turn through the Bahamas today and strike along the coast of Florida on Thursday, without making landfall. Graphic from the National Hurricane Center.

Because of that track, influenced by a high-pressure ridge in the Atlantic, Florida’s east coast is now, largely, under a hurricane warning. Those warnings went up late Tuesday night, only hours after the east coast had been  put under tropical storm and hurricane watches. The current hurricane warning area covers the Florida coastline from Golden Beach, in Miami-Dade County, to Sebastian Inlet, at the north end of Indian River County. Hurricane watches are in effect from the inlet north to Fernandina Beach, adjacent to Jacksonville. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Miami-Dade County and portions of the upper Florida Keys.

State transportation officials are expected to make a decision today about whether to suspend tolls on Florida’s Turnpike. It is unclear how soon such a decision could be made; however, forecasters predict tropical storm conditions will begin to impact the South Florida coast by mid Thursday morning, with conditions deteriorating throughout the day.

It is not uncommon for authorities to suspend tolls and change travel directions on toll roads and other highways to accommodate evacuations.