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Matthew makes landfall in Nicaragua

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 8:45 PM GMT on September 24, 2010

Satellite data shows that Tropical Storm Matthew has made landfall along the Nicaragua/Honduras coast, and is now headed inland through northern Honduras. Data from the Hurricane Hunters showed that Matthew was beginning to intensify as it made landfall, but no further intensification is likely as long as Matthew's center remains over land. We don't have many reporting stations where Matthew made landfall; Puerto Lempira, Honduras is closest, and reported sustained winds of 46 mph at 5pm CDT.

Figure 1. Forecast rain amounts for the 5-day period beginning at 8am EDT today (Friday, September 24) as predicted by this morning's 8am EDT (12Z) runs of the GFDL and HWRF models. Very heavy rains in excess of eight inches (yellow colors) are predicted by both models for portions of Central America along Matthew's track. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/GFDL.

Short range forecast for Matthew
If Matthew follows the official NHC forecast and remains inland, the storm will gradually weaken and dissipate 2 - 3 days from now. If the center of Matthew emerges over water, as suggested by the HWRF model, some slight intensification could occur before Matthew makes landfall in Belize Saturday night. The SHIPS model forecasts that shear will fall to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, Saturday afternoon through Monday, so any movement of Matthew's center offshore is likely to allow intensification. The main danger for Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and northern Guatemala will be from heavy rains, not wind. The forecast rain amounts of 6 - 10 inches, with isolated amounts of 15 inches, will cause severe flooding and dangerous mudslides. Belize, northern Guatemala, northwestern Honduras, and bordering regions of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are most at risk from Matthew's rains, since the storm is likely to slow down and linger in these regions this weekend and early next week.

Long range forecast for Matthew
Matthew is being forced just north of due west by a strong ridge of high pressure. This ridge will keep the storm moving at 15 mph through Saturday. On Sunday, a trough of low pressure diving southwards over the Eastern U.S. will weaken the steering currents over the Western Caribbean and cause Matthew to slow to just 5 mph by Sunday night. Most of the models now show Matthew lingering over Central America long enough to dissipate. However, by Wednesday of next week, most of the models indicate that remnants of Matthew, and/or a piece of a tropical disturbance over the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Guatemala, will move into the Western Caribbean and develop into a tropical depression. The trough of low pressure over the Eastern U.S. is then likely to draw this system northwards across Cuba late next week into either Florida or the Bahamas. Whether this development would be called Matthew or Nicole is uncertain, as is the potential strength of such a storm. We'll just have to wait and see what unfolds over the next few days.

Tropical Storm Lisa
Tropical Storm Lisa continues to churn the waters of the far Eastern Atlantic. By Saturday night, upper level winds out of the west are expected to increase, bringing high wind shear of 20 - 45 knots over Lisa. The high shear may be capable of destroying the storm by early next week. It appears unlikely that Lisa will affect any land areas.

I'll have an update Saturday morning.

Jeff Masters


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