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Cape Canaveral prepares for Hurricane Matthew

As Matthew brews in the Caribbean, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station enters into HURCON III. Photo Credit: United States Naval Research Laboratory

As Matthew brews in the Caribbean, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station enters into HURCON II. (Click for full view) Photo Credit: United States Naval Research Laboratory

As Hurricane Matthew moves toward the Bahamas, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s (CCAFS) 45th Space Wing is putting itself under Hurricane Condition II (HURCON II). This means CCAFS is curtailing its operations, as it expects surface winds exceeding 58 mph (93 km/h) within 48 hours.

As of 5 p.m. EDT (21:00 GMT), Oct. 5, Matthew was still a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph (193 km/h). It is located approximately 205 miles south-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas and moving northwest at 12 mph (19 km/h). The eye is expected to approach the Florida East Coast near Port St. Lucie about 2 a.m. on Friday and potentially come on land at Cape Canaveral around noon Friday.

As of 5 p.m. EDT (21:00 GMT), Oct. 4, Matthew was a strong Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 145 mph (233 km/h). It was situated south of Cuba and is moving north. It will hit the eastern side of the island this evening, after which it is expected to turn northwest and strike the Bahamas.

At 2 p.m. EDT (18:00 GMT), the National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a Hurricane Watch for the East Coast of Florida from Deerfield Beach to the Brevard/Volusia County border. The center of Matthew is projected to be off the coast of Cape Canaveral by Friday morning.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has not made any announcement regarding changes to its operations yet. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex recommends members of the public call the day before or the day of their intended visit to see if the complex’s hours have been affected.

Hurricane Preparations

As part of the Squadron’s preparations, they will be recalling specialized response teams at Patrick Air Force Base to brief them on the status of the storm. HURCON operations include disconnecting electrical power to non-essential facilities and preparing facilities for the storm’s potential arrival. Recall notices have been issued to account for all CCAFS personnel, including tenant units and families of deployed members.

All non-mission essential personnel were released at 11 a.m. on Oct. 5. Mandatory evacuation for personnel and residents on barrier islands, in manufactured homes and in slosh zones began at 3 p.m. Mission essential personnel will remain on duty until directed otherwise.

According to the Squadron’s official release:

Base personnel and residents should take action to prepare for the possible arrival of hurricane-force winds. These actions include the potential for evacuation of the base and all barrier islands. Wing leadership is coordinating preparation and response operations with Brevard County and NASA emergency management operations centers.

The latest release from the Squadron also provided updates to base personnel requiring reimbursable travel, lodging, mileage, and food on a per diem basis. Individuals needing additional information should consult the release and the Department of Defense per diem website.

At the moment, the CCAFS commissary, Base Exchange, Child Development Center, Youth Center, and Riverside Dining Facility remained open until non-essential personnel were released. The Squadron will announce additional information as it becomes available. For more information and updates, visit the 45th Space Wing’s website.

Video courtesy of NASA Johnson


Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida. Leahy's diverse career has included work for The Walt Disney Company, NASA, the Department of Defense, Nissan, a number of commercial space companies, small businesses, nonprofits, as well as the Science Cheerleaders.

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