Update, 8:03 p.m., Oct. 6, 2016: The hurricane warning for Broward County has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning, according to the NHC’s 8 p.m. advisory. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the areas of Boca Raton to South Santee River and Lake Okeechobee.
Update, 6:26 p.m., Oct. 6, 2016: Hurricane Matthew’s track shifted slightly in the early afternoon hours, taking Broward County out of the cone of danger. The county remains under hurricane warning. Miami will not receive hurricane impact and Mayor Carlos Gimenez said most county operations should resume tomorrow morning, including transit at the MetroRail.
Ivan Ceballos, Director of Residential Life at UM, estimated the residential halls were at 60 to 65 percent capacity Thursday afternoon. Unless conditions worsen, Ceballos said students will be allowed to enter and exit dorm halls. Breakfast is planned to be served in dining halls tomorrow morning.
University of Miami Athletics Director Blake James said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the football game between the UM Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles scheduled for Saturday.
“We are hopeful that the impact of Hurricane Matthew will be minimal and the game between the Hurricanes and Seminoles will be played as planned,” James said.
Update, 2:03 p.m., Oct. 6, 2016: More than 7,500 people are reported to be without power in Miami-Dade, even before tropical storm conditions hit full-force.
The White House Press Office announced around 1:30 p.m. that President Barack Obama ordered federal emergency aid be provided for disaster relief efforts in Florida. This authorized the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance to the state.
Update, 1:50 p.m., Oct. 6, 2016: Many students who live in on-campus residential halls have opted to leave campus and stay with family and friends in Florida.
“I went home for the weekend because I was worried about the storm. It feels so much safer at home because we have shatter-proof windows,” said freshman Ryan Cheng, who lives 30 minutes away from campus.
Elevators in the 12-floor residential towers were shut down just before 2 p.m. and stairwells cannot be accessed later this afternoon due to high winds and rain, rendering students unable to move about the building later today. Bridget Scanlon, a freshman from New Jersey who lives in Hecht Pentland dorms, said she is staying with a commuter friend who lives in Coral Gables.
“Even though I felt really safe in the dorms, so many people from my floor left. I did not want to be stuck in my dorm for the next 24 hours so I left,” she said.
CERT reportedly demobilized on campus Wednesday due to lack of proper accommodations.
The university will provide Meals Ready to Eat to students if dining halls shut down amid tropical storm conditions, according to a notification sent out this morning.
Florida Governor Rick Scott issued mandatory evacuation warnings for more than 1.5 million Floridians, saying they need to leave their homes immediately if they have not done so already. Storm surge zones for Florida can be found here. Miami-Dade County will receive tropical storm conditions, but the chance of the county experiencing hurricane conditions is down to five percent. A Hurricane warning is still in effect for Broward County.
Hurricane Matthew strengthened into a Category 4 storm again and is headed northwest at approximately 14 mph, an increase in speed from the past few days. Matthew is expected to turn north-northwest overnight. The core of the storm just around the eye contains the strongest winds and has pummeled the Bahamas with wind speeds up to 140 mph.
For more information about evacuations in Miami-Dade County, visit miamidade.gov/fire/evacuations.asp
Update, 8:31 p.m., Oct. 5, 2016: ‘Canes Emergency Response Team (CERT), the student-led group that aids emergency responders and police officers by monitoring areas on-campus, has been activated. The team will be in designated “emergency operation centers” at the University of Miami Police Department and in residential halls. CERT will be in place from 6 a.m. Thursday until 12 p.m. Friday.
At 8 p.m., Hurricane Matthew was moving northwest at approximately 12 mph, according to the NHC. The storm is expected to strengthen overnight and be very close to Florida’s east coast by Thursday night. Tropical storm conditions are forecasted to reach Florida by Thursday morning or early afternoon.
In the event of an emergency, students should call UMPD at 305-284-6666.
Update, 5:07 p.m., Oct. 5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew’s forecasted track moved slightly closer to the eastern coast of Florida, according to an advisory by the NHC. The hurricane remains a Category 3 storm.
All UM classes, events and operations are cancelled Thursday and Friday. Dining halls will remain open. There are mandatory floor meetings in all residential halls today, where Resident Assistants will tell students the dining schedule and other important information.
All Parents Weekend events are also cancelled, according to a university alert. Parents can email email@example.com for refunds. The university has not announced plans to cancel the UM v. Florida State University football game on Saturday.
Follow The Miami Hurricane on social media for updates. Watch the weather as it changes, live-streamed here:
Update, 11:45 a.m., Oct. 5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew is moving toward the northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h). Matthew is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening, according to the NHC’s 11 a.m. advisory.
Matthew is a category three hurricane, and some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days. The hurricane is expected to remain at least a category three while it moves through the Bahamas and approaches the east coast of Florida.
Update, 5:05 p.m., Oct. 4, 2016: Hurricane Matthew is expected to make a north-northwest turn by Wednesday and a northwest turn Wednesday night, according to the NHC’s 5 p.m. advisory. The strength of the storm could fluctuate in the next few days, but it is expected to be a powerful storm through Thursday night.
Tropical storm force winds extend up to 175 miles out from the eye.
Update, 11:43 a.m., Oct. 4, 2016: Inland Miami-Dade County, metropolitan Miami-Dade and coastal Miami-Dade County are under tropical storm watch as of 11:33 a.m., according to the NWS. There is a moderate threat to life and property, according to the report, and residents should prepare for the possibility of winds as strong as 73 mph.
Update, 11:10 a.m., Oct. 4, 2016: The university started shuttering on all campuses as a precaution. NHC announced another tropical storm, Nicole, in the Atlantic in their 11 a.m. advisory. Tropical Storm Nicole is moving toward the northwest at about 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 50 mph and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 70 miles out from the center.
The next complete advisory will be at 5 p.m.
Update, 10:35 a.m., Oct. 4, 2016: The National Weather Service is giving South Florida a 60 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm conditions and less than 15 percent chance of hurricane conditions, according to an advisory sent out to the university community by UM Communications.
“All classes, events, and clinical activities are operating on a regular schedule. The University CDT has met three times since Sunday and will meet again this evening to re-assess conditions and any changes to operations will then be communicated to the University community,” the advisory read.
Update, 9:45 a.m., Oct. 4, 2016: The NHC said the eye of Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in Western Haiti around 7 a.m. South Florida has gradually been included in the predicted path of the storm.
Irvenie Latortue, a senior at UM, is an international student from Haiti. Her family and friends are still in Haiti, but because their property is on high ground, Latortue said she is not too concerned about the damage to her family’s home. However, she is anxious for Haiti, she said.
“I am worried for Haiti as a whole,” she said. “There are areas in the North, especially near mountains that are susceptible to mudslides, and flooding is a great risk for those who live at sea level.”
UM leaders are meeting this morning to discuss a plan of action, according to the university’s Emergency Notification Network (UMiamiENN). There will be a more definite announcement regarding cancellations, evacuations and the storm’s expected impact later today.
Update, 10:33 p.m., Oct. 3, 2016: Hurricane Matthew is expected to make a north-northwest turn on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. advisory. This means there is a chance the storm could pass directly over South Florida on Thursday. All counties in Florida are under a state of emergency as declared by Governor Rick Scott, but there have been no mandatory evacuations.
“Folks along the east coast of Florida and here in South Florida should be preparing for a major hurricane to either pass close enough to cause some trouble or make landfall, which would be the worst-case scenario,” said meteorology student Reed McDonough, who has been closely monitoring the storm and posting updates on his Facebook page.
The hurricane, which has sustained powerful 140 mph winds over the past few days, will hit Haiti overnight. It is forecasted to pass through eastern Cuba and the Bahamas shortly thereafter, making its trek toward Florida. Caribbean nations are at risk for experiencing flash floods and other life-threatening conditions as a result of the heavy rainfall. Experts say they will get a better idea of Matthew’s path in relation to South Florida by tomorrow night.
McDonough advised students to watch local forecasts for advisories and updates, but to keep in mind that predictions, including the widely-used “cone” models, are constantly changing. He said the cone may be misleading because one-third of the time, the eye of the storm falls outside the highlighted area and the impact is further-reaching than what the visual showed. McDonough said “spaghetti” models are more reliable because they illustrate the various predictions from the meteorology community and offer a clearer range of where the storm could track.
University of Miami policy dictates that class cancellations would go into effect if the city is expected to experience tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or higher). The National Weather Service has given South Florida a 40 to 50 percent chance of experiencing these conditions. The university has not announced any cancellations at this time.
Update, 6:45 p.m., Oct. 3, 2016:
Florida may receive direct hurricane impacts later this week according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Storm watches may be issued tonight or early tomorrow for parts of Florida and the Keys. Later this week or this weekend, storm conditions could affect areas of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Update, 8:58 a.m., Oct. 3, 2016: At 5 a.m., Hurricane Matthew’s wind speeds weakened from 145 mph to 130 mph, but the Category 4 storm continues to move north at up to 9 mph toward Jamaica and Haiti.
The storm is expected to continue its plow through the Caribbean, hitting Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas sometime Thursday. Areas of Cuba have already been evacuated and leaders in Jamaica and Haiti have advised citizens to brace for the impact. Jamaica has not seen a major storm make landfall on the island in almost 20 years, since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, but Haiti is a nation still struggling to recover from the damage caused by previous hurricanes, and there are concerns over another outbreak of cholera
Current models show Matthew passing just off the coast of eastern Florida, but experts say they will get a better idea once the storm has passed through the Caribbean. UM leaders met Sunday night and were briefed on the situation. The university has not announced plans to cancel class or evacuate the campus. Shpiner, of the Office of Emergency Management, said the university will continue monitoring the storm’s progress in the coming days.
“We’re prepared to take action if we need to,” Shpiner said.
Update, Oct. 1, 2016: Hurricane Matthew briefly reached Category 5 wind speeds on Friday night as it crossed the Caribbean. As of 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the NHC in Miami downgraded it once again to Category 4.
Hurricane Matthew is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Felix in 2007, with maximum wind speeds of 155 mph. Matthew is expected to land in Jamaica early next week, between Monday and Tuesday, with western Haiti receiving some tropical storm impact. Current NHC forecasts predict that the Bahamas will receive impact by next Wednesday.
Matthew, a storm system developing in the Caribbean, was designated a major Category 4 hurricane on Friday evening based on current wind speeds, with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph according to the latest measurements by the NHC. Matthew poses a threat to Jamaica, eastern Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas early next week.
The NHC forecast states that it is “too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts from Matthew in Florida.” However, NHC director Rick Knabb says that residents of south Florida will have plenty of time to prepare.
“UM leadership has been closely monitoring this storm,” said Matthew Shpiner, director of the Office of Emergency Management. “We have been receiving regular briefings this week. Our current hurricane procedures are to continue monitoring the storm and make sure our plans are prepared for activation.”
Plans include sandbagging, shuttering and moving or cancelling classes. However, based on the current forecast, the university does not anticipate drastic measures.
“If we were to anticipate direct impact of the storm at Category 3 or greater intensity, we would have to talk to local officials to see whether an evacuation would be called for,” Shpiner said. “Based on the current forecast, that doesn’t appear to be the conditions we are expecting. It’s still too early to see.”
Over the weekend, administration and Emergency Management will be participating in conference calls with the National Weather Service and local and state officials. Senior leadership will discuss the issue on Sunday evening, and the university will be updated with any decisions that are made.
In the event that the university does receive impact from the storm system, Shpiner advises students to be prepared with the following tips:
- Have a basic communication plan with their family and keep family members up to date about the storm
- Have a basic supply kit with food, medical supplies and refilled prescriptions
- Fill up gas tanks for vehicles
- Withdraw cash in the event that ATMs and credit card readers no longer work in a power outage
- Closely monitor the storm and check in with university updates
The Office of Emergency Management will be posting regular updates at facebook.com/umiamiENN and @umiamiENN on Twitter. More hurricane preparation information is available on their webpage.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.