Numbers only tell part of the story. To help illustrate the potential severe impacts, WXshift has created graphics using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration storm surge forecast and Google Earth. They show storm water could flood the streets of downtown Jacksonville and wash right up to the gates of EverBank Field, the Jacksonville Jaguar's home.
These renderings are not intended to be a forecast of exact impacts. A shift in Matthew's track of just 10 miles could be the difference between major impacts and relatively minor ones, not just in terms of storm surge but also rain and wind.
But these images do illustrate the potential Matthew has to push water ashore and wreak havoc. They also serve as a warning that staying in harm's way is a risky proposition. Voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for Lucie, Flagler and Duval counties and a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for barrier islands in Brevard County. It's distinctly possible more evacuation orders will be issued as the forecast progresses.
RELATED: Hurricane Matthew: Why It's So Strong
Warming oceans and melting glaciers have added about 8 inches to sea levels near Jacksonville since the start of the 20th century. Research has also shown an increase in the frequency of large storm surge events in the Atlantic hurricane basin since 1923.
Marshall Shepherd, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Georgia, has an instructive post over at Forbes about what you need to know about monitoring Matthew. His first point is particularly relevant:
"The forecasts evolve. Just because you saw a forecast on Saturday, it doesn't mean that it has not or will not change. It is not uncommon for someone to say, 'But I thought the storm was going to ___ because that is what they said three days ago.' Hurricane track forecasts have improved over the past few decades, but there is still significant error. Intensity forecasts are even more challenging. Watch the evolving forecast rather than exclusively relying on one you saw days ago."