DISCUSSION: As the NOAA Hurricane Hunters continued to investigate the heart of Hurricane Matthew throughout the morning and early afternoon hours today across the Central Caribbean, they found a pretty awesome sight. As shown in the image above, you can clearly see the fairly well-defined eyewall of Hurricane Matthew as they began to proceed in completing one of their flight;s many legs across the core of Matthew's strong circulation. It is worth noting that despite Matthew's slight weakening which has taken place since late last night (i.e., the time by which it officially reached the status of a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph along with higher gusts in association with the deepest core convection), Matthew underwent an eyewall replacement cycle.
As is often found with the occurrence of eyewall replacement cycles, intense hurricanes will undergo intensity fluctuations (i.e., often observed in the form of slight temporary or sometimes permanent weakening of the tropical cyclone). This is precisely what was found to be the case shortly after Matthew underwent a complete eyewall replacement cycle during the overnight hours. However, during the post-sunrise hours of this morning, Matthew quickly regenerated a distinct and symmetric eyewall which allowed it to maintain the weaker but still very strong maximum sustained winds of 140 mph as it stands right now. Thus, despite undergoing some slight weakening over the past 12 hours or so, Matthew still remains a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane which is now setting aim on the island of Jamaica as well as points further north! Stay tuned right here at the Global Weather and Climate Center for more updates as more information becomes available from the National Hurricane Center office in Miami, Florida!
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~Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz