Good evening, folks. And now for something really different...
The entire southeastern coastline must pay close attention this Monday evening as powerful category 4 Hurricane Matthew bears down on Haiti later tonight, the Bahamas within the next 48-72 hours, and then somewhere from the Florida coast to the Carolina's later in the week.
Matthew is absolutely a real threat and could affect Georgia vs. South Carolina on Saturday night. Right now, we just don’t know where it will ultimately go and make landfall - if any. But as time goes on and better data is coming in, the track is becoming more ominous.
First, a bit about me in case you didn’t know. I’ve been living in south Florida since early ‘93, and for 14 of those years worked in local television at the NBC and ABC affiliates as a certified AMS on-air meteorologist before
I got canned wised up and change careers. During this time, I can say that I have worked with some of the best tropical weather forecasters in the business. My first boss was Bryan Norcross, who hired me only months after Hurricane Andrew. Norcross is famous for guiding south Floridians through the dark night of August 24, 1992 when Hurricane Andrew slammed into south Dade county and changed lives forever - and how people prepare. I have also had the privilege of working directly and indirectly with some of the best minds in the business at the National Hurricane Center, so I think I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two. (Maybe I should apply for a job with that insurance company.)
Most of the 90’s were hyperactive years in terms of the sheer number of hurricanes - land-falling and otherwise - and this trend lasted well into the mid 2000’s, including Katrina and Wilma.
We’ve had a bit of a lull in recent years, but this season is truly proving to be mean. Matthew has the potential to strike the Sunshine State, and as of this writing much of south Florida is in the track “cone of error.” Later in the weekend, this system could impact farther up the coastline - either directly or just brushing by before hopefully heading out to sea.
One of the better hurricane models is the U.S. “GFS,” or Global Forecast System. It has performed very well this season and handled the evolution and track of Hermine a few weeks ago flawlessly as it made landfall in the Florida panhandle as an 80 MPH Category 1 hurricane. Therefore, the fact that as of this writing the GFS is parking a major hurricane very near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the approximate time of kickoff on Saturday tells me that some hard decisions will have to be made, and very soon. In my estimation - again if the National Hurricane Center’s official forecast continues to suggest a landfalling hurricane anywhere near the South Carolina coast - this game will certainly have to be pushed back to another date.
Why? Simple. Evacuation takes time and the very last thing in the name of safety is a clogged up interstate system headed west with coastal residents leaving harm’s way. Folks headed towards Columbia for a night game would only exacerbate the problem as well as late-night post-game traffic. Not a good situation at all.
If this storm doesn’t quite make landfall, but is close enough to the coast, then the broader circulation of the system would most likely extend far enough west to encompass the greater Columbia metropolitan area with tropical storm force winds and severe thunderstorms embedded within the spiral rain bands...including the threat for isolated tornadoes.
Furthermore, I just don’t think our kicking game can handle a head wind, cross wind, tail wind or light breeze at this point.
If you are thinking about taking the trip over to the Palmetto State, stay tuned to the official forecasts from NHC. If the computer models begin to align more (called “a consensus”) and continue to suggest that Hurricane Matthew does not re-curve out toward open Atlantic Ocean (some still are as of this writing, so that scenario is on the table for now), there is a strong possibility that we won’t be watching the Dawgs this weekend for a very good reason.
Safety first. Always.