Evacuations ordered; US East Coast girds for Hurricane Matthew
The eye of Hurricane Matthew has moved off the northeastern coast of Cuba and forecasters have expanded the hurricane warning area in Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 130 mph (215 kph) but it is expected to maintain strength through at least Thursday night. Matthew is moving north at 8 mph (13 kph).
Forecasters expect Matthew to move through the Bahamas on Thursday and be very near Florida’s east coast by that evening.
The center upgraded hurricane watches from Golden Beach to Sebastian Inlet and for Lake Okeechobee to hurricane warnings. The hurricane watch area has been extended north to the Flagler-Volusia county line.
Evacuations have been ordered:
[Gov. Rick] Scott advised Florida residents who live near the East Coast to leave before travel becomes difficult. He told reporters Tuesday that evacuation orders could be imminent. …
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also declared a state of emergency, said the emergency workers would begin medical evacuations ahead of Hurricane Matthew on Tuesday and coastal evacuations on Wednesday afternoon. …
Authorities in Hyde County have issued a mandatory evacuation order for Ocracoke Island, a popular tourist destination, ahead of Hurricane Matthew. Visitors will evacuate starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Resident evacuations begin at 5 a.m. Thursday.
The University of North Carolina-Wilmington has also ordered students to evacuate no later than noon Thursday.