Long Island is bracing for the possible impact of Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to pass south of the region Sunday, but the exact track of the storm is still uncertain, forecasters said.
If and when Matthew nears LI, it is likely to weaken from its status as an extremely dangerous category four hurricane when it battered Caribbean islands with 145 mph sustained winds Tuesday—but how much strength the storm will have left this weekend is also hard to say, experts said.
“There’s a large uncertainty in where it could end up,” said David Stark, an Upton-based National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist. “We just have to keep monitoring it.”
Matthew is expected to pass the east coast of Florida on Thursday and Friday before making landfall in the Carolinas on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHS). As of Tuesday, NHS forecast Matthew to track southeast of LI on Sunday as it continues on a northeasterly direction.
Matthew became the first category five hurricane of the year last week but weakened slightly before it hit Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.
Stark said that after Matthew makes landfall, it is expected to continue to lose strength, possibly bringing up to 57 mph winds to the region if it doesn’t veer farther inland or go out to sea first. As of Tuesday, the NWS predicted a 40-percent chance of showers Saturday and Sunday, which was forecast as very windy.
NWS placed the Island under a hazardous weather outlook that said it is “too early to mention specific impacts.”
Local leaders are likely to issue oft-repeated reminders for residents to be prepared for the worse and hope for the best in the coming days. And on LI, examples of both are fresh memories—from Hermine, which turned Labor Day weekend into a false alarm, to the ongoing reconstruction from Sandy four years ago this month.