Hurricane Matthew Predictions For Florida Fall Into 3 Major Categories & They Should All Be Taken Seriously

Here's the kind of news you never want to hear. While the ultimate outcome is not yet clear, owing to the inherent unpredictability of massive storm events and the paths they weave, Hurricane Matthew is currently stirring urgent concerns across the eastern seaboard of the United States. And that includes concern from public officials. In fact, some predictions of Hurricane Matthew making landfall in Florida and South Carolina have sparked very stern warnings, including a coastal evacuation order from the Palmetto State's Republican governor, Nikki Haley.

Matthew is currently a Category 4 hurricane, and it's already torn a damaging path through the island nation of Haiti as it moves toward the U.S. mainland. As it stands now, there are a number of ways the situation could play out, but the simplest and most binary distinction is whether or not it'll hit the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, and how much damage it'll inflict if it does. As CNN noted in its coverage of the hurricane, quoting the National Hurricane Center, there's still a lot of variability here:

When a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do ... it becomes very difficult to estimate impacts this far in advance.

So what are the possibilities as it stands now? There are mainly three outcomes being floated at the moment.

Matthew Peels Away From The U.S. Coast

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This, needless to say, would be the most favorable outcome for residents of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas ― Matthew peels off to the east, petering itself out over the Atlantic in relatively harmless fashion (nonetheless, in all likelihood, with some far less severe stormy weather along the coast). Nothing can undo the damage Matthew's already caused in the Caribbean, however.

Matthew Slides Up The East Coast

Many projections are showing Matthew sliding up the East Coast, not hammering into any particular state with it's full force, but imperiling the coastline and surrounding cities and towns as it works its way northward. This is one of the scenarios that's prompted Haley to call for coastal evacuations in South Carolina. Despite the fact that it wouldn't necessarily be quite as devastating as it could be otherwise, it would still likely be a major disaster and a huge public emergency.

Matthew Hits Florida With "Direct" Force

Assuming Matthew doesn't lose a considerable amount of steam before reaching U.S. shores, and assuming what's being called a high-pressure front in the Atlantic pushes the storm even further west into a full-on collision with Florida, then residents of the state (to say nothing of the neighboring states) will be facing a worst-case scenario. And that's exactly what Florida Governor Rick Scott has told residents to expect ― he's warned Floridians to prepare for "a direct hit."