Florida has officially dodged a 140 mph bullet. Although the Treasure Coast is still being whipped by hurricane-force winds this morning, Matthew looks likely to avoid making landfall in the Sunshine State — just barely. The killer eye wall missed the coast by less than five miles in some spots.
In short, we got lucky as hell. But that's not how longtime Miami resident Matt Drudge reads the story. As the worst potential impacts still lingered last night, Drudge took to Twitter to suggest the storm was a twisted government conspiracy:
There are so many obviously incorrect points in those two tweets it's hard to know where to even start refuting them. Let's begin with the data, which is far from "monopolized" by the National Hurricane Center.
As any amateur meteorologist in Miami can tell you, Twitter and the web are flooded with independent data from dozens of satellites, computer models, and weather stations. In fact, it's probably safe to say most Floridians got their Matthew news from someplace other than the National Hurricane Center.
Second, what exactly would the government gain by pretending a hurricane was worse than it really was? Making an "exaggerated point on climate"? Wouldn't that point be immediately lost when people realized the storm wasn't that bad?
But there's also no doubt that Matthew was exactly as dangerous as everyone warned. The death toll from the hurricane in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and St. Vincent now stands at 478 people, and that figure will likely rise. In Cuba, the historic town of Baracoa was leveled.
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Miami — and Florida as a whole — should be grateful we missed the worst of the storm. Just look at how close the storm's center came to the coast.
As for Matthew today, Miami's tropical storm warning was officially lifted at 5 a.m. by the National Hurricane Center, though gusting winds and some rain will likely stick around throughout Friday. The storm is still brushing along the Atlantic Coast, with a 100 mph gust recorded in Cape Canaveral this morning.
And Miami probably isn't done with Matthew just yet. The NHC's latest models confirm that the "Loop Scenario" is real. Matthew will be back in our neighborhood next week, though likely as a far weakened tropical storm: