By the numbers: Hurricane Matthew makes storm history

A Brevard County board reads "Matthew Go Home."

Florida is bracing for severe weather when Category 3 Hurricane Matthew pulls up along side the Space Coast Friday bringing up to 130 mph winds. 

Matthew is making history with its strength and path. Here are some quick facts, by the numbers about what makes the hurricane so powerful.

When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti’s southern coast on Oct. 4 as a Category 4 storm, it was the strongest storm to make landfall there in 52 years.

At 400 miles wide Matthew is being compared to Hurricane Floyd, a smaller storm on a similar path further away from the coast of Florida that left destruction in its wake in 1999.

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Matthew is a late bloomer for the typical six month Atlantic hurricane season, but why?

There are three factors that fuel large powerful storms: deep, warm ocean water, moisture in the atmosphere, and an absence of significant wind shear, according to a Live Science interview with Chris Lancey,  science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center.

September is traditionally the busiest time of the Atlantic hurricane season. According to an “Ask the Times” feature in a 2009 edition of the St. Petersburg Times of 1,372 storms recorded in the Atlantic Basin from 1851 to 2008, 34 percent formed in September, 25.3 percent in August, 20.5 percent in October, 7.4 percent in July, 5.8 percent in June and 4.4 percent in November. Just 2.2 percent of storms developing in March, April, May, December and January.

More than one-third of all hurricanes that hit the United States have hit the state of Florida. If Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in North Carolina, it will be the first time since 1954 a hurricane has hit the U.S. north of Florida in October.

Moving north over Haiti and Cuba before hugging in close to Florida's east coast, Matthew is following a similar path to 1954’s Hurricane Hazel, 1999’s Hurricane Floyd hugged the east coast of Florida as well, but passed above Cuba before turning north. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy also crossed over Cuba traveling north, but stayed a bit east of Florida’s Atlantic coast before merging with another system, hooking west, and barreling into the New York metro area as a post-tropical system, known as the devastating Super Storm Sandy. 

Until Hermine made landfall in September 2016, Florida received a respite after 11 direct hurricane hits from 2004 to 2005. Florida went 3,396 days, 142 months or 10 years, 10 months, and nine days, without a hurricane hit. The last one to make landfall in the Sunshine State before Hermine was Wilma on October 24, 2005.

About the Authors:

Donovan is WKMG-TV's executive producer of digital enterprise