(USA TODAY) -- Should the U.S. be worried about powerhouse Hurricane Matthew? While it is too early to say for sure, forecasters say there is cause for concern.
There are basically two extremely wide-ranging scenarios after it batters the Caribbean: Either a direct hit, anywhere from Florida to Maine, or a miss, with the storm sliding up the coast but never making landfall.
Matthew could take a track close to the coast or could pass several hundred miles offshore, according to AccuWeather.
"While there is more suggestion of a coastal scrape than a landfall at this time, a U.S. landfall certainly isn’t out of the question," meteorologist Brian McNoldy wrote on the Capital Weather Gang.
Various scenarios from the top American weather model (the GFS) and the top European model (the ECMWF) show the storm tracking over or near the East Coast, with the GFS scenarios trending a bit closer to the coast, McNoldy said.
"Coastal residents from Florida to Canada should be on the alert for possible impacts in a few days, especially given this hurricane’s strength and breadth," said Weather Underground meteorologist Robert Henson.
What will ultimately determine how close Matthew comes to the East Coast involves the timing and strength of large-scale weather systems spinning over the U.S. and the Atlantic, according to weather.com. Upper-level high and low pressure areas — whose forecast are difficult to pin down this far out — will either act to help pull the storm close to the coast or push it out to sea.
Even if the storm doesn't make a direct hit, massive waves will pound portions of the East Coast, Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore said.
The largest waves will likely batter Florida to North Carolina on Wednesday through Friday, AccuWeather warned. Rip currents will also develop and can be life-threatening.