The 13th tropical system of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season formed late this morning in the Windward Islands.
As of 11 a.m. today, Tropical Storm Matthew is about 35 miles southeast of St. Lucia, containing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour with higher gusts and moving westward at 21 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters expect Matthew to gradually strengthen to a hurricane by Friday as the cyclone moves through the Windward Islands and over the eastern Caribbean Sea.
Favorable environmental conditions consisting of warm water and low shear will help Matthew strengthen, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The National Hurricane Center cautions that the short- and mid-term track is uncertain.
The forecasters expect a deep-layer ridge over the western Atlantic to steer Matthew westward across the eastern Caribbean over the coming days. After 72 hours, the cyclone is expected to take a northwestward turn as it approaches the western portion of the ridge.
That’s where the modeling is outputting significant differences “as to when the turn takes place and how sharp it will be,” meteorologist Daniel Brown writes in the latest discussion issued by the National Hurricane Center.
“The GFS takes the cyclone northwestward much faster than the ECMWF with more troughing developing over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. For now, the NHC track lies near a consensus of the faster GFS and slower ECMWF,” Brown writes.
In layman’s terms, the forecast beyond three days is highly uncertain, so it’s too early to say where Matthew will eventually head.
With about two months left in the current hurricane season, forecasters advise coastal residents to have a plan should a tropical system threaten or strike.
The 2016 hurricane season ends on Nov. 30.