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Tropical Storm Matthew Could Turn Towards Eastern Seaboard

The Atlantic hurricane season has a new contender. Tropical Storm Matthew, which formed in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea earlier this week, could head north to the Eastern seaboard as it continues to pick up steam.

The storm was moving at 20 miles per hour with sustained winds of 60 MPH as of Wednesday afternoon, lingering off the coast of St. Lucia. Though there are several trajectories the storm may take, there’s a chance it could make its way towards Maryland.

“Climatologically, the central and western Caribbean is a favored region for tropical cyclones to form in October,” explains Brian McNoldy, a cyclone researcher at the University of Miami. “And with troughs and fronts reaching farther south this time of year, those storms that do form tend to get pulled northward. This storm may end up fitting that description perfectly.”

McNoldy writes in the Washington Post that the storm’s current plotted trajectory appears very similar to that of a devastating storm that swept through Maryland over 60 years ago. Hurricane Hazel killed six people in Maryland, two in D.C., and 13 in Virginia when it hit in 1954, causing record-strength wind gusts up to 98 MPH.

In fact, the devastation of Hurricane Hazel was a major driver in improving hurricane analysis and preparedness by the U.S. government. Today, water damage alone costs an average $2,386 per household to fix, while wind damage can range from $5,700 to $10,000 or more.

While prediction patterns have improved since the days of Hurricane Hazel, it’s still too soon to sound the alarm on Tropical Storm Matthew.

“Matthew will take a westward path across the central Caribbean this weekend, where strengthening to a hurricane is possible,” hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski told USA Today.

If the storm does not turn northward near Cuba, as meteorologists expect it will, Matthew could end up hitting the Gulf Coast region instead of the Atlantic Seaboard.

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