In less than 24 hours, still-growing Hurricane Matthew will slide along South Florida after tearing through Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. If you've still been holding out hope that the monster storm won't unleash torrential rain and howling winds in our neck of the woods, it's time to get real.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a full-fledged hurricane warning from Golden Beach in North Miami-Dade County up through Sebastian Inlet. A tropical storm warning is now in effect from the Florida Keys through all of Miami.
What does that mean? Forecasters are now all but certain that hurricane-force winds will slam into the area north of Golden Beach by tomorrow, with tropical-storm-force winds throughout Miami.
Meteorologists say Matthew remains especially difficult to predict as it follows Florida's east coast — the storm's path could stay offshore, whipping South Florida with winds and rain. Or it could veer west and make landfall.
"Because Matthew will be tracing an arcing path that echoes the coastline itself, it is impossible to tell at this point exactly where that arc will overlap the coast," say Jeff Masters and Bob Henson of Weather Underground. "Even in those stretches where Matthew remains just offshore, coastal locations may still experience winds of tropical-storm or even hurricane strength, as well as very heavy rain."
Take it from the National Weather Service: If you live in South Florida, be ready for the worst:
As of 5 a.m., Matthew is between Cuba and the Bahamas and has slightly slowed to 125 mph maximum winds. But the storm is expected to restrengthen to a Category 4 today over the warm waters around the Bahamas as it angles northwest toward Florida.
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In Cuba and Haiti, meanwhile, residents are grappling with widespread flooding and property damage from the storm.
This same storm is just one day away from South Florida. It's time to get ready.