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Hurricane forecasting has significantly improved

5-day forecasts still need advancing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Matthew rapidly strengthened into an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane Friday night, meteorologist continue to track where the storm may end up over the night several days. 

South Florida will begin seeing the effects of Hurricane Matthew Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest track, released at 11 p.m. Friday.

While the public may not always trust the forecast models, meteorologists -- from News4Jax Chief Meteorologist John Gaughan to those at the National Weather Service -- all agree that the forecasts are much more accurate than they were a few years ago.

So, why have they improved so much? The answer is simple -- technology.

Meteorologists and hurricane experts said they can now give the public a much longer and more accurate timeline on where a tropical system will go. 

Meteorologist Pete Wolf, the science and operations officer at the National Weather Service, has been tracking hurricanes in Jacksonville for over a decade. He said the advances are undeniable. 

"Even 12 years ago, the models, the computer models that we used weren't nearly as sophisticated as today. They have improved remarkably. So much so that we have higher and higher confidence in the forecast seven days in advance, where we would be lucky to have confidence three days in advance, back 10 years ago," Wolf said. 

Several different meteorologists agree that there is still room for improvement. But the way things are going, forecasting should continue to improve in the years ahead.