Thursday, October 06, 2016

Millions evacuate Florida's east coast ahead of Matthew

NOAA Satellite image of Hurricane Matthew, 215 miles southeast of the Florida coast Thursday morning.
Hurricane Matthew has been pounding the Bahamas for over 24 hours now. The center of the strengthening hurricane is located 215 miles (350km) southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida this morning. Millions of residents have been ordered to evacuate the coast, from Miami northward toward Jacksonville and beyond into Georgia and South Carolina. A hurricane warning is in effect, with the center of Matthew forecast to skirt the coastline through late Friday. Winds in excess of 125mph can be expected along Florida's east coast starting this evening. Heavy rain and a storm surge in excess of five feet are also expected along the southeast US coast.

Hurricane Matthew is currently a Category 3 storm, but forecast to strengthen to a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida late today. Overnight winds gusted to 145mph in the Bahamas. Already this morning, Matthew is looking better organized on radar and satellite, with a deepening pressure to 939mb in the center of the storm. If Matthew comes ashore, it will be the first major hurricane to make landfall in the US since Wilma in 2005.

Damage from Matthew has been extensive in Cuba and Haiti. At least 27 fatalities have been reported across the Caribbean. Many portions of Haiti remain isolated, with flooding and no communications. Residents in coastal communities up and down Florida's east coast spent much of Wednesday boarding up, stocking up on supplies, and heading inland. A state of emergency has been declared in numerous coastal counties from Florida to North Carolina. Matthew is expected to linger along the coast during the upcoming weekend, before weakening and looping into the Atlantic, east of South Carolina.

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