The updates Miami residents are getting about Hurricane Matthew keep getting worse. After initially predicting the hurricane would miss the Florida coast entirely, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said yesterday that portions of South Florida were, indeed, in the storm's path.
This morning, the Center issued hurricane watches for Central Florida, but Miami-Dade County was only put on alert for a tropical storm.
But today's 5 p.m. NHC update has extended the hurricane watch through Broward County all the way into Golden Beach at the northeastern tip of Miami-Dade County.
"Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area in Florida by late Thursday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Thursday," the update says. "Tropical storm conditions are also possible in the Florida tropical storm watch area by early Thursday."
Importantly, a hurricane watch differs from a hurricane warning. The latter means a storm is imminent within 36 hours:
South Florida is expected to receive four to seven inches of rain, though the storm could dump ten inches on some areas. Hurricane-force winds are expected at least 45 miles from the eye wall, which is still gusting at 140 mph. The hurricane is expected to plow over eastern Cuba, including the historic city of Baracoa, tonight.
Experts so far still don't think Miami will get the worst of the storm, with the Treasure Coast still looking more likely to receive the brunt of Matthew's anger. But the storm is also proving difficult to track accurately more than a day ahead.
"There is the potential for life-threatening inundation during the next 48 hours along the Florida east coast from North Palm Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County line," the alert says.
Bottom line: If you live anywhere in South Florida and you haven't prepared for this storm yet, now is the time.