Hurricane Matthew: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Charleston, SC after flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew

Residents of North and South Carolina are bracing for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall on the North and South Carolina coasts on Thursday or Friday. Evacuations of coastal areas were already underway days ahead of the hurricane. Hardware stores reported running out of emergency supplies and gas stations said customers had bought up all of their gasoline in preparation for the hurricane.

As Florence approaches, some residents were thinking back to the last hurricane to hit the Carolinas. Hurricane Maria swept through North Carolina in 2017, lashing the coastline with storms and heavy rains. But the last hurricane to make landfall in the Carolinas was Matthew, in 2016.

Here’s what you need to know about Hurricane Matthew:

1. Matthew Formed Near the Windward Islands and Turned into a Hurricane When It Reached the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Matthew moving over the Windward Islands.IR4 Satellite animation of the movement in the last 13:30 hours of Tropical Storm Matthew affecting the Lesser Antilles with the core over the Windward Islands and moving into the Caribbean Sea. 9/28/20162016-09-29T02:29:29.000Z

Matthew was “born” in the West Indies, not far from the group of small islands known as the Windward Islands (the group includes Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, and Martinique, among others). Matthew started out as a nameless storm, but quickly gathered force as winds swept it across the Atlantic. By the time Matthew reached the Windward Islands it had grown from an ordinary storm into an organized weather system; that’s when it was named Tropical Storm Matthew.

Matthew grew into a hurricane as it crossed into the eastern Caribbean. On October 4, Matthew made landfall in Haiti and in Cuba as a category 4 hurricane. And on October 5 and 6, Matthew battered the Bahamas as a category 3 and 4 hurricane.

2. Matthew Made Landfall in South Carolina on October 8, 2016

Local tour guide Larry Gerald in Charleston, South Carolina

Hurricane Matthew caused damage and destruction up and down the eastern seaboard, but only made official landfall once in the US. That happened on October 8, just southeast of McClellanville, South Carolina. Matthew was a category 1 with winds clocked at 75 miles per hour.

Matthew also caused massive storm surging in Florida, and to a slightly lesser extent in Georgia. On October 7, scientists measured a surge of nearly 10 feet above normal levels (the actual figure was 9.88 feet. There was flooding throughout the St Augustine area in Florida, caused by storm surge flooding.

At Fort Pulaski, in Georgia, scientists working the the National Ocean Service recorded a storm surge of just under 8 feet.

3. Matthew Caused Dozens of Deaths in the US & Hundreds of Deaths in Haiti

Destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in southeastern Haiti

Hurricane Matthew had weakened from a category 5 — the strongest possible hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale — to a category 1 by the time it made landfall on the South Carolina coast, not far from Charleston. Matthew hit Haiti, Cuba, and then the Bahamas much harder than the US, and caused nearly 900 deaths in Haiti. The BBC reported that some parts of southern Haiti had been almost completely destroyed by the powerful hurricane, which hit the country on October 4.

In Florida, Matthew caused at least five deaths. Two people were killed when they were struck by falling trees; a couple was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator in their garage. And in St. Lucie County, a woman suffered a heart attack and then medical workers couldn’t reach her in time to help her, because of Hurricane Matthew made roads impassable.

The National Hurricane Center says that floods caused by Hurricane Matthew caused the deaths of 25 people in North Carolina and four in South Carolina.

4. Matthew Destroyed Tens of Thousands of Buildings and Caused Over Ten Billion Dollars of Damage in the US

Flooding in North Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) keeps track of the damage done by natural disasters, like wildfires and hurricanes. You can see their list of recent natural disasters — and the relevant costs — here.

NOAA says that Hurricane Matthew caused 10.6 billion dollars of damage to the US. The agency found that the most extensive damage took place in eastern North Carolina, where heavy flooding damaged 100,000 homes, businesses and other structures. The flooding impacted even people living inland and relatively far from coastal areas, because the hurricane caused even rivers to flood.

5. South Carolina Residents Say That Experiencing Hurriane Matthew Prepared Them to Deal With Florence

In many South Carolina communities, the impact of Hurricane Matthew can still be felt, two years later. Homes have not been rebuilt. In the town of Nichols, businesses on Main Street are still boarded up, and residents are quick to tell reporters about the hurricane’s destruction.

But residents of Nichols, and other towns in South Carolina, say they’re not going to be caught unprepared when Hurricane Florence hits. In Nichols, residents have already bought every loaf of bread in the town’s biggest grocery store. Some are making plans to evacuate; others are preparing to ride out the storm at home. But nobody is taking Hurricane Florence lightly. “Everybody’s overpreparing,” Brian Blanton, a Nichols resident, told The State.

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