FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Hurricane Matthew strengthens slightly, continues to move north

FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Hurricane Matthew strengthens slightly, continues to move north
Hurricane Matthew late Monday night
Hurricane Matthew late Monday night
Hurricane Matthew projected path
Hurricane Matthew projected path

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Hurricane Matthew strengthened slightly late Monday night with 145 mph winds as it moves north, threatening a number of islands late Monday night.

The 11 p.m. projected track for the Category 4 hurricane showed no real change to the storm's path.

Earlier in the day, the projected path moved Matthew move further west which means a bigger impact for the Lowcountry as we look towards the end of the week.

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At this point, it's too soon to know how the hurricane might affect the U.S. coast as it makes it way eventually through the Caribbean and towards the U.S.

The current models show Matthew pushing up along the southeast coast by the end of the week.

"We're hoping the storm stays off the coast," Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said Monday night."The question now becomes how close to the coast will it get."

Monday night's forecast shows the Lowcountry in the western part of the system by the end of the week.

Models show Mathew move within 100 miles of Charleston before moving north east.

But due to a number of variables, a trough to the west of us and a ridge in the Atlantic, the models do not show the exact magnitude of the storm or how close Matthew will get to the South Carolina coast.

Potential impacts for the Lowcountry will be tropical storm force winds, heavy rainfall, beach erosion, and some surge, but will depend on how close Matthew gets to the coast.

Matthew has prompted hurricane warnings for Jamaica, Haiti, parts of Cuba and the southeast Bahamas. Officials say with maximum sustained winds at 140 mph, up from 130 mph Monday morning, the storm would do significant damage upon landfall.

Rainfall predictions for Southern Haiti and the southwestern Dominican Republic state the storm could dump between 15 and 25 inches of rain, with isolated areas receiving as much as 40 inches.

Eastern Cuba and northwestern Haiti could see eight to 12 inches, with isolated areas receiving up to 20. In Eastern Jamaica, forecasters say to expect between five and 10 inches, but say isolated areas could receive 15 to 20 inches. In the Southeastern Bahamas, eight to 12 inches could fall, with isolated areas receiving 15 inches.

Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in southern and northwestern Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba.

The storm is expected to produce hazardous surf throughout portions of coastal Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia over the next few days.

For those tracking the storm on a hurricane tracking chart, the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located near latitude 16.3 North, longitude 74.7 West. Matthew is moving toward the north near 7 mph.

It is approximately 140 miles southwest of Tiburon, Haiti and 225 miles southwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti.

Too early to tell how Matthew might affect the Lowcountry

Though the storm track has the storm moving north parallel to Florida's Atlantic coast, the National Hurricane Center reminds the public that there is a "significant spread in the model guidance beyond day three" and that storm tracking errors are anywhere from 180 miles to 240 miles.

It will be a Category 3 by the time it moves over the Bahamas at which point it is expected to weaken to a Category 2 and continue northwards toward the eastern seaboard, forecasters say.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division elevated its operational readiness to OP-CON 4 early Sunday morning, recommending members of the state's response team begin reviewing plans in preparation for the category four storm. Operational Condition Level 4 is the second-lowest of five levels and denotes an elevated level of awareness, which includes reviewing plans and procedures.

Emergency operations centers in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and Georgetown Counties have also moved up to their own Op-Con 4, but county leaders maintain it is far too early to tell with certainty where the storm will go.

The rest of the week 

With a high temperature of 87 degrees, the weather will stay calm and sunny Monday before changes begin on Tuesday when the Lowcountry will see breezy showers as an onshore wind starts to pick up in intensity.

Meteorologist Joey Sovine says breezy, showery weather may continue Wednesday through Friday.

"The amount of rain and the strength of wind will be strongly dependent on the track of Hurricane Matthew," Sovine said. "Right now, indications show that this storm may stay offshore, however, it is too early to say that definitively."

High surf and dangerous rip currents are expected by the end of the week, regardless of the track.

Experts say Matthew became the strongest storm in the Atlantic in nine years since 2007's Hurricane Felix.

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