Hurricane Matthew Wasn't As Bad As Feared In West Palm Beach
As of Friday morning at 5 a.m. local time, West Palm Beach avoided the worst of Hurricane Matthew. After making all of the necessary preparations, the city was able to collectively exhale in the early morning once the eye of the storm had passed about 75 miles away.
The hurricane warning for West Palm Beach was officially downgraded to a tropical storm warning, but authorities warned that would still mean it's unsafe to go outside or hit the roads. There are still high winds and heavy rain to be expected, and it's very likely that residents will find signs of damage (such as fallen trees and power lines) in their neighborhoods.
In the lead-up to the hurricane, Palm Beach County prepared for the worst, closing schools and businesses, evacuating residents in danger, and urging people to shutter up their homes. The weather services recorded winds of about 50 mph on Thursday evening and into the night, and it appears that, for the most part, people heeded the warnings to stay home and avoid going out into dangerous situations.
One of the most dangerous elements of a storm like this is the storm surge, with waters in Palm Beach County expected to be 4 to 6 feet higher than normal.
Considering the damage that Hurricane Matthew has already caused and the potential havoc it could wreck in north Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and South Florida, including West Palm Beach, the area got exceedingly lucky. The eye of a hurricane tends to "wobble," a phenomenon that, with Hurricane Matthew, ended up causing a lot of damage in the Bahamas before continuing on to Florida. On the other hand, South Florida benefited from another wobble that kept the eye of the storm, and with it the storm's most dangerous winds and rain, far enough away from the coast for the damage to stay relatively minor.
While West Palm Beach's Hurricane Matthew story is getting close to its end, danger still remains for residents further north. The state of emergency still remains in place for north Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and part of the southern coast of North Carolina is under a tropical storm warning as well. While many hope for the best, it seems that West Palm Beach will not see the worst of the damage brought by Hurricane Matthew.