BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Hurricane Matthew pelted Florida with heavy rains as the deadly storm steamed ever closer to the coast with potentially catastrophic winds of 130 mph Thursday. Two million people across the Southeast were warned to flee inland.
It was the most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade, and had already left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.
“This storm’s a monster,” Gov. Rick Scott warned as it started lashing the state with periodic heavy rains and squalls around nightfall. He added: “I’m going to pray for everybody’s safety.”
As it moved north in the evening, Matthew stayed about 100 miles or more off South Florida, sparing the 4.4 million people in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from its most punishing effects.
By Thursday night, more than 60,000 homes and businesses were without power. Streets in Vero Beach were partially covered with water, and hotel guests in Orlando were told to stay inside, though a few sneaked out to smoke or watch the rain.
Millions of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to evacuate their homes, and interstate highways were turned into one-way routes to speed the exodus. Florida alone accounted for about 1.5 million of those told to clear out.
The First Warning Weather team continues to monitor any possible affects from the storm as it nears the Baltimore area.
WHAT RESIDENTS IN BALTIMORE CAN EXPECT:
According to WJZ’s Marty Bass, models show it remaining a Category 2 hurricane through Sunday when the storm could be near the Carolinas.
Bass says at this point the trends are in our favor, which predict the storm could steer further of the coast before it gets past the Carolinas and Virginia due to a frontal boundary.
Hurricane Matthew is forecasted to move northeastward off the South Carolina coast Saturday into Saturday night.
“Right now, the trend for our weather in Baltimore is for a quieter forecast leading into the weekend, but if the forecast track re-adjusts again that could mean implications for more wind and rain–especially east of the Bay,” says Meteorologist Chelsea Ingram.
According to the National Weather Service, uncertainty increases as Matthew starts to track east- northeast and away from the coast into Sunday. At this time, coastal areas of the Mid- Atlantic have the best chance to see affects from Matthew.
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