In September 2016, a band atmospheric low pressure, known as a tropical wave, began to move away from the African Coast. In just a few days, that band of low pressure had developed into a tropical storm that was given the name of Mathew. By the time that Mathew had travelled as far as the eastern Caribbean, weather maps showed that it had developed further and, on the 1st October 2016 Mathew became a category 5 hurricane and a hurricane that was to become one of the costliest for many years.
As Mathew looked to be on a course that would take it though the Caribbean to the United States, the course of the storm was plotted using NAM maps USA, which are produced by the North American Mesoscale Forecast System, and GFS maps USA, which are produced by the Global Forecast System weather model. It is sophisticated forecast maps of North America and other regions like these that enable weather forecasters to predict where a hurricane might make landfall.
Hurricane Mathew developed into a very powerful Category 5 hurricane, the highest category of storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It was the first hurricane of this magnitude since Hurricane Felix, which had made landfall in Nicaragua and Honduras, in 2007.
Mathew went on to become the most destructive hurricanes in decades. It tore through, Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic and then went on to the south-eastern United States. Hurricane Mathew caused more than $10 billion of damage and it was responsible for the lives of more than 1,600 people.
Hurricane Mathew made landfall in eastern Cuba and Haiti on Oct. 4, which is where the majority of the casualties occurred. While Cuba was prepared for the storm and evacuated more than 1 million people from coastal areas, in Haiti, many people weren’t even aware that the storm was on the way. It is estimated that some 1,500 people lost their lives in Haiti when Hurricane Mathew struck.
As the progress of Mathew was tracked on forecast maps for the USA, it was expected that the storm would make landfall in south-eastern parts of the USA. However, detailed analysis of USA weather maps showed that, ultimately, the storm only actually made landfall at one location in South Carolina.
However, Hurricane Mathew passed close enough to the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina to cause extensive damage.
As forecast maps of North America predicted that Mathew would make landfall, a state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, Florida and parts of Georgia and just over 1.5 million people were advised to evacuate their homes.
As it transpired, the hurricane did not cause as much damage as was expected, though the damage was still extensive. The total cost of Hurricane Mathew in the US is estimated to have been in the region of $7 billion. Fortunately, the advance warning provided by the weather maps for North America gave people the time to shelter from the storm. 49 deaths in the US were recorded as a direct result of Hurricane Mathew.
Eventually, Mathew reduced in severity and travelled on to Canada. Even though the storm had nearly run its course by this time, it still caused $7.6 million worth of damage in Canada.