Nearly 2.5 Million People Evacuated in the U.S. as Hurricane Matthew Hits the Bahamas
Currently a Category 4 storm, forecasters predict Matthew will pick up steam as it makes it way through the Bahamas.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to be seen in Florida as early as Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center reports. Meteorologists say Matthew will then head north-northwest, approach the east coast of the state’s peninsula by Friday and may make landfall in Brevard County — with the center scraping Brevard’s barrier islands.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared states of emergency in anticipation for the storm. As of 5 a.m. on Thursday, the hurricane was just 255 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, the National Hurricane Center reports.
The last time Florida saw a landfalling major hurricane — category 3 or higher — was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
And it’ll be the first hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast since 1950’s Hurricane King — which hit Miami, killing seven and destroying 21,000 homes, NBC News reports.
Over 2,500 flights have been cancelled Friday, ABC News reports, including flights in Atlanta, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Ft. Lauderdale Airport will shut down Thursday at 10.30 a.m. ET, while Miami International Airport will close at noon.
The storm has already hit Cuba and passed through Haiti, where CNN reports over 100 people have been killed and thousands displaced. It’s still not known how bad the damage is, as entire areas have been cut off from communication. The presidential election there has been postponed.
On early Thursday, Matthew hammered parts of the Bahamas where more than 3,000 tourists are still there, ABC News reports.
“If Matthew directly impacts Florida, there will be massive destruction that we haven’t seen in years,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a press conference on Monday. “The projected path is a little off the coast, but it can change at a moment’s notice. When that happens, we’re not going to have a lot of time to get ready.”