Hazel versus Matthew

Hazel versus Matthew

. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)  There have been a lot of comparisons between Hurricane Matthew and one of the most intense storms ever to hit SC - Hazel. 

Hurricane hazel roared ashore near Little River, SC as a powerful Category 4 hurricane on October 15th, 1954. Winds were as high as 140 mph and the storm surge reached 15 to 19 feet across most of the Grand Strand.  The storm left nearly all beach front property destroyed from Myrtle Beach, SC to Morehead City, NC. 

There are some striking similarities between Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Hazel, but most of those are in the early life of both storms.  Both Matthew and Hazel formed near the Leeward and Windward Islands as they moved westward from the Atlantic and into the Caribbean Sea.  Hazel made a very sharp north turn in the central Caribbean and Matthew is now starting to make a similar sharp turn to the north.  After passing over the eastern tip of Haiti, Hazel then moved into the Bahamas.  Matthew is forecast to pass near the eastern tip of Haiti as well and end up in the Bahamas by early next week. 

It's here where the similarities will likely come to an end.   The steering pattern surrounding Hurricane Hazel featured a large and powerful area of high pressure over the North Atlantic Ocean.  That area of high pressure prevented Hazel from turning out to sea, and was instead forced to move northwest toward the coast of SC until making landfall. 

The eventual set up with Matthew will likely be much different.  The area of high pressure over the North Atlantic is considerably weaker allowing the storm to turn more northward once into the Bahamas.  At the same time, a trough of low pressure over the north-central part of the US will help more than likely help to steer Matthew more northward and eventually northeastward and eventually out to sea. 

Matthew is a still a storm we need to watch closely, but a repeat performance of Hurricane Hazel looks highly unlikely at this point.