Local weather forecasters say it’s too soon to know if Hurricane Matthew will have any impact on the North Carolina coast and caution against early comparisons to other storms.
Chris Collins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Newport, which covers the Onslow County area, said it would be next week before any impacts were felt from the storm, which had developed into a category 1 hurricane and was gradually moving west across the Caribbean.
“It could possibly impact us. If it impacts us at all it will be mid- to late next week,” Collins said.
Computer models showing the storm-long term track have prompted comparisons to the track taken by Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
But Collins said every storm is different and forecasts can change frequently. He cautions against making comparisons or deciding any forecast for the area.
“It’s way too early to make any judgement calls,” he said.
Jay Barnes, author of North Carolina’s Hurricane History, also urges caution when comparing storms and said much can change in storm forecasts over several days.
But the development of Hurricane Matthew does have similarities reminiscent of Hurricane Hazel.
Barnes said Hurricane Hazel did come to mind when he first heard about Hurricane Matthew, but it wasn’t the projected track that drew his attention. It is the time of year that he noticed.
“That was in the days before satellite, but Hazel was identified as a storm about Oct. 4. Matthew was just a little bit before that,” Barnes said.
Hurricane Matthew is also similar to Hurricane Hazel in that in came up out of the deep Caribbean rather than organizing off of the African coast as is the case with many Atlantic storms.
But Barnes stops short of saying one storm will be like another.
Comparisons to Hazel, however, are understandable. It’s the storm many in coastal North Carolina think of when they think of the big hurricanes to hit the state.
“Hazel does get a lot of attention; it’s a benchmark storm,” Barnes said.
Collins and Barnes said all storms should be monitored by the public should they have an impact on the local area.
“We’ll keep watching,” Barnes said.
Barnes would rather not see another chapter added to his book.
“Hopefully this will be another storm we don’t have to worry about,” he said.