localHurricane MatthewLIVE

Back to
Similarities between Matthew and Hurricane Floyd are unmistakable in N.C.
Nick Lomasney walks through heavy wind and flooded streets as Hurricane Matthew passes St Augustine, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. — In North Carolina, the similarities between Matthew and Hurricane Floyd, the state’s worst natural disaster, are unmistakable.

“When the storm itself came through we had the ocean response, which really wasn’t too terribly bad, but then all the rain came down the rivers from the Piedmont,” Rick Luettich, director of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Center, said of the 1999 storm.

“If this turns into the rainmaker that some predictions suggest it could then certainly we can expect flooding in Kinston and areas along the Tar River that flooded when Floyd came through.”

Like Floyd, Matthew arrives after a prolonged period of rain in eastern and central North Carolina. Floodwaters in areas around Fayetteville, Windsor and Greenville were just starting to recede.

An average of 10 inches are predicted to fall over the next day in eastern North Carolina, with some spots expected to see 15 or more inches.

Luettich said he expects Matthew’s storm surge to average two to three feet. That’s enough to cause damage to structures along the dune line, but the timing of the storm and tides appear to be working to limit a larger surge and more damage. High tide was around 1 p.m. today, well ahead of Matthew’s strongest punch.

“When the worst of the winds get up to southeastern North Carolina, hopefully we will be past the high tide and in fact a bit closer to the low tide,” he said. “That has a huge impact impact on the amount of storm surge we end up getting.”

Luettich said one major concern about potential storm surge right now is that the storm’s farther reach up the coast will drive the waters of Pamlico Sound into low-lying communities on the sound’s western side and back up the mouth of Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers.

Luettich said those areas, likely to flood in the days after the storm, could see several feet of surge this evening and tomorrow.

Flash flood emergency unfolds in Carolinas as Florida begins to clean up
(National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Matthew is making its closest approach to Florida on Friday morning as a powerful Category 3 with sustained winds of 120 mph. The storm is hugging the coast as it tracks north, churning just 25 miles offshore.

Cape Canaveral has endured the strongest winds so far — a 107 mph wind gust was recorded Friday morning after an extreme wind warning was issued in the early morning hours.

Matthew is expected to continue north along the coast and reach Georgia and South Carolina by Friday night. The hurricane will continue to weaken gradually thanks to the interaction with land, but it will remain a dangerous storm with serious impacts for the coastline. A storm surge warning is in effect to the central South Carolina coast.

On Saturday night, Matthew will begin to turn east away from the coast, likely before any serious impacts reach the Outer Banks.