Meet the new track, same as the old track …
The track is maybe a bit further offshore from Florida – and as noted with this storm, every bit helps. Damage estimates in Florida dropped by half (from $8 to $4 Billion) with this forecast. But, as NHC correctly notes, an equally small shift back would bring hurricane force winds over inland areas and the impacts would double or more again. Hurricane watches have been extended further north, but that’s just because there is the potential for hurricane force winds within 48 hours. Nothing to freak out about that these watches are changing to warnings – nothing has changed in terms of the forecast or potential impacts.
Given this, nothing has changed from the earlier posts. The slow drift should end this evening and the storm will start moving again. Once it does we will be able get a better handle on the impacts to northern Florida, GA, SC, and later potentially NC.
For the Georgia coast, we’re still expecting storm surges of around 3 feet above the normal tide levels. For comparison, a couple feet higher then the high tides over the weekend – but short of the peaks seen in the last two last years. That’s around 11 feet at the Fort Pulaski Gauge (or 3 feet above the normal high tide line). If you are on the coast and saw flooding in Matthew or Irma, hopefully it won’t be that bad, but smart to plan on those levels given the prolonged onshore winds. Winds are still expected to be tropical storm force right on the water, and lesser (but gustier) inland, so that’s branches breaking, a few trees down, power outages, mostly confined to the coast, so nothing catastrophic. Again, that’s the most *likely* outcome based on the forecast track. For planning and safety purposes, use good judgement.