UPDATE: 7:11 a.m. — Thousands of flights have been cancelled due to bad weather conditions caused by Hurricane Matthew. Reports said 4,387 flights have been cancelled Thursday through Saturday. 

Meanwhile, several areas in Florida have reported power outages with Brevard County being the worst affected, where over 100,000 homes and businesses do not have power.  The National Weather Service in Melbourne announced that winds in Brevard County have picked up with peak wind gusts now clocking at 107 mph in North Brevard County. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will be speaking to Good Morning America at 7:15 a.m. EDT with updates on the hurricane, described as the fiercest storm in nearly a decade.

UPDATE: 5:25 A.M. — Hurricane Matthew's outer eyewall entered Florida accompanied by 115-plus mph gusts, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

An Extreme Wind Warning has been issued for Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Brevard County. The Brevard County Emergency Management Office added that 100,000 homes and businesses don’t have power.

UPDATE: 5:09 a.m. — The National Hurricane Centre said early Friday that Hurricane Matthew is “moving parallel to and just offshore of the east coast of Florida.” Officials added that the western eyewall of the storm is approaching Cape Canaveral accompanied by strong winds. 

“Matthew is moving toward the north-northwest near 13 mph (20 km/h) and this general motion is expected to continue today. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts,” the NHC said in its update. 

The Brevard County Emergency Management Office said Friday that 20 percent of the county, or about 65,000 homes, lack power as the storm inches closer. The county reported 88 mph gusts at Satellite Beach, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida.

UPDATE: 3:43 a.m. EDT — The National Weather Service (NWS) Melbourne, Florida, said Friday that Hurricane Matthew’s outer eyewall is approaching Indian River and Brevard County with 90 to 100 miles per hour wind gusts. The eyewall is the most destructive portion of the storm. Flood warnings have been issued for St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard County until 5:45 a.m. EDT.

The hurricane forced the evacuation of 4,650 people in Brevard County who are currently housed in one of the 15 shelters established in the area. Meanwhile, NWS Miami said flood advisory for Palm Beach County is still in effect until 5:15 a.m. EDT.

UPDATE: 2:30 a.m. EDT — The National Hurricane Center downgraded Hurricane Matthew to Category 3 early Friday, with maximum sustained winds decreasing to 120 miles per hour. 

UPDATE: 1:51 a.m. EDT — The Brevard County Fire Rescue team in Florida announced early Friday that the situation was too dangerous to respond to emergencies as Hurricane Matthew inches closer to southeast U.S. The officials urged people to remain indoors.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted early Friday urging people to make sure their phones are charged. “Charge all smart phones while you have power. The NHC sends push notifications during the storm. Do not ignore, it could save your life,” he said.

The storm is producing 70+ miles per hour wind gusts in east Florida, according to the Weather Channel. The BBC reported that while the eye of the storm is over the sea, winds clocking up to 90 miles per hour are just 10 miles from Florida.

UPDATE: 12:41 a.m. EDT — The death toll due to Hurricane Matthew has climbed to 339 in Haiti as the storm moves toward southeast U.S., a Reuters report said citing local officials. 

UPDATE: 12:17 a.m. EDT — U.S. President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for Georgia late Thursday in addition to the previous emergency declarations issued for Florida and South Carolina due to Hurricane Matthew.  

The storm that has claimed at least 283 lives in Haiti missed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which was initially in the storm’s crosshairs, the Associated Press reported

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that over 140,000 people are without electricity across the state due to the storm, which has been described as one of the fiercest in nearly a decade.

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport, which was closed due to the storm, will reopen Friday morning, authorities said.

UPDATE: 11 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew plowed northwest at 13 mph Thursday night, heading for Florida. At 11 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center reported Matthew, packing winds of 130 mph, 125 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“It's the first time we've had the threat of a direct hit,” NASA spokesman George Diller said in an email to Reuters. A team of 116 NASA and U.S. Air Force employees were bunkered down inside the kennedy Space Center’s Launch Control Center.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Nicole was upgraded to a category 2 storm with winds of 105 mph. At 11 p.m. EDT, Nicole was 340 miles south of Bermuda.

UPDATE: 9:35 p.m. EDT — At 8 p.m. EDT, Hurricane Matthew was 75 miles east of West Palm Beach Florida, traveling northwest at 13 mph. The category 4 storm is packing sustained 130 mph winds. A hurricane warning was in effect from Boca Raton to the South Santee River and for Lake Okeechobee.

Matthew is expected to hover over the Florida peninsula through Friday night.

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m. EDT — The death toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti is climbing. The Associated Press quotesofficials as saying 283 people died in the southernmost zone.

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. EDT — The death toll on Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew has been upped to 261. Reuters reported several dozen died in one coastal town.

UPDATE: 5:35 p.m. EDT — President Barack Obama Thursday signed an emergency declaration for South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew barreled toward the U.S. Southeast. A similar declaration was issued for Florida Wednesday.

UPDATE: 5:40 p.m. EDT — President Barack Obama talked with Govs. Nathan Deal of Georgia, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Pat McCrory of North Carolina and Rick Scott of Florida about storm preparations Thursday and pledged all necessary federal resources, the White House said in a statement.

The White House said the president was receiving regular updates on Hurricane Matthew’s progress.

Republican president nominee Donald Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago estate is in the direct path of the storm.

UPDATE: 5:15 p.m. EDT — At 5 p.m. EDT, the eye of Hurricane Matthew was about 25 miles south-southeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and 100 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, moving northwest at 13 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said Matthew’s 140 mph winds extended outward 60 miles, with tropical storm-force winds reaching 185 miles.

NHC warned the winds from the category 4 storm will be especially dangerous to high-rise buildings, where they could reach category 5 strength above the 30th floor.

UPDATE: 3:13 p.m. EDT — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sent out a statement about Hurricane Matthew Thursday in which he praised law enforcement and asked residents to obey their local authorities.

"These warnings are very, very serious — if your home is in the path of the hurricane and you are being advised to leave, you need to do so right now," he said. "Nothing is more important than the safety of your family."

Democrat Hillary Clinton retweeted a hurricane message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier in the day Thursday.

UPDATE: 2:42 p.m. EDT — Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Thursday that only about a third of people had evacuated from the Florida city's beaches, ActionNewsJax reported. "It's not too late to leave," he said.

About 1.5 million people left their homes for safer places this week in fear of Hurricane Matthew, which was set to make landfall in Florida Thursday night, NBC News reported. ABC News forecaster Max Golembo said the storm, which was upgraded to Category 4 on Thursday morning, could become a Category 5 system by that point.

UPDATE: 2:09 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew remained a Category 4 storm on Thursday as its eye moved closer to Freeport in the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center wrote in its 2 p.m. EDT update on the weather system.

The storm was moving at about 14 mph on Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. "Interests elsewhere in the Florida Peninsula, the Florida Keys, and in the Carolinas should monitor the progress of Matthew," the center wrote. 

UPDATE: 1:38 p.m. EDT — President Barack Obama signed Florida's emergency declaration request Thursday, allowing federal resources to be used in the Sunshine State ahead of the expected landfall of Hurricane Matthew. 

It authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures," according to a news release from the White House.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #PrayForFlorida began trending on Twitter. Even celebrities were lending their support:

UPDATE: 1:04 p.m. EDT — Life-threatening storms do not mix well with the Happiest Place On Earth. Walt Disney World announced that it would close at 5 p.m. EDT  Thursday and remain shuttered through Friday, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Universal Studios will do the same.

UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 4 storm, has killed 102 people in total, Reuters reported Thursday. The majority of deaths were in Haiti, where officials told ABC News 21,000 people were in shelters.

"In Haiti, the government reports that a number of people have lost their lives and estimates that at least 350,000 people need immediate assistance," a spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Wednesday, adding that "the full extent of the hurricane’s impact remains unclear."

UPDATE: 12:01 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew took down trees and caused authorities to shut off the power in parts of the Bahamas Thursday, the Weather Channel reported. The Category 4 storm was located about 25 miles west-northwest of Nassau, bringing with it swells and more than a foot of rain.

"I can't panic because I think it would cause my daughter to get upset. I'm telling her everything will be just fine," tourist Jenny Schmitt told NBC News from the Atlantis Resort in Nassau.

UPDATE: 11:33 a.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew reached Category 4 status Thursday as it sat about 180 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. EDT update. The storm was moving northwest at about 14 mph, triggering evacuations in the southern United States as the Bahamas received heavy rains.

"Hurricane conditions are expected to first reach the hurricane warning area in Florida by late today and will spread northward within the warning area through Friday," the update read. "Tropical storm conditions are first expected in Florida within the next several hours."

UPDATE: 11:20 a.m. EDT — The Obama administration urged residents across the southeastern coast Thursday to prepare for Hurricane Matthew. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the storm's impact could be "quite significant," and advised residents to listen to local officials.

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m. EDT — Florida Gov. Rick Scott said waves more than five feet tall could hit Florida beaches starting Thursday night. Scott said National Guard members are ready to help residents leave their homes. 

"No one should be taking any chances," he said during a press conference Thursday. "Right now, we are very focused on Palm Beach going north... This is game day."

He said residents on the east coast of Florida should expect to lose power. "You are going to lose power, we just don't know for how long," he said. 

UPDATE: 10:25 a.m. EDT — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a mandatory evacuation for people in six coastal counties east of Interstate 95 as Hurricane Matthew approached Florida Thursday. The storm was expected to move toward South Carolina Friday night. Grocery store chain Publix announced it would close some of its stores, while airports in different counties were redirecting flights.

 

UPDATE: 10:02 a.m. EDT — The eye of Matthew was expected to pass through the northwestern Bahamas Thursday morning before moving to Florida's east coast Thursday night with winds near 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest update. Hurricane conditions were expected to hit Florida Thursday morning and northeast Georgia and South Carolina by early Saturday. 

UPDATE: 9:40 a.m. EDT — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley warned residents Thursday to hurry up and stock up on hurricane supplies such as gas, water and canned food. She said many stores in South Carolina were expected to start closing around noon. 

"You will not have access to stores, gas stations pharmacies all of those things so we really do need you to think of that," she said. 

She said 677 residents were already staying in shelters across the state as Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Florida starting Thursday night and then move up north Friday. Hotels were largely booked up, Haley warned. 

UPDATE: 9:10 a.m. EDT — Florida Gov. Rick Scott had a grave warning for his state's coastal residents Thursday as Hurricane Matthew headed toward the U.S.: "This storm will kill you."

"Time is running out. We don't have much time left," he said.

Hurricane Matthew was located Thursday morning about 215 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

UPDATE: 8:44 a.m. EDT — FEMA administrator Craig Fugate urged coastal residents Thursday to take Hurricane Matthew seriously and to evaucate if ordered to do so. The storm carrying 125 mph winds was 215 miles southeast of Palm Beach, Florida and 30 miles south-southwest of Nassau, Bahamas.

UPDATE: 8:05 a.m. EDT — At least 3,000 people have already checked into shelters in Florida as Hurricane Matthew moves northward toward the United States, according to reports. The local weather service also warned about hazardous storm surges along coastal South Florida.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said 48 shelters are in place housing nearly 3,000 people and another 13 special needs shelters are housing 31 people. Other states along the Eastern Seaboard too are preparing for the storm, which is expected to hit U.S. shores Thursday evening.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is expected to give an update on the preparations and evacuations underway in her state at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service tweeted that the hurricane continued to strengthen over the Bahamas.

UPDATE: 7:36 a.m. EDT — The death toll from Hurricane Matthew has gone up to at least 39 lives, according to reports, even as the storm moves northward toward Florida. Of the 39 people dead at least 35 are from Haiti, local officials said. 

The storm, which has triggered the evacuation of millions in the U.S., has also forced the closure of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL), the North Perry Airport (HWO) and the Pompano Beach Airpark (PMP).

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center announced that PMP is expected to reopen Friday at noon while HWO is expected to reopen Saturday evening. The command center did not say when FLL is expected to reopen.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service of Miami-South Florida advised speeding up evacuations before the storm force winds precede the hurricane's landfall.

UPDATE: 5:55 a.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Florida as a Category 4 storm, and the damage to the state is feared to be "catastrophic," BBC reported, if the feared "direct hit" materializes.

The hurricane, which is currently packing winds of 125 mph, has claimed at least 22 lives in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic.

UPDATE: 5:08 a.m. EDT — Weather forecasters announced early Thursday that Hurricane Matthew had strengthened as it moved toward the southeastern U.S. The hurricane warning area has been expanded, the Associated Press reported. 

NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said Thursday he is “confident saying this is going to be a major hurricane in the history of Florida ... I’m not positive yet it will be historic for Georgia and South Carolina.”

UPDATE: 3:29 a.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew has forced a mass exodus of millions who are fleeing inland following warnings of the storm intensifying as it moved toward the southeastern U.S.

Food stores and gas stations ran out of supplies as people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas braced themselves for what is being called the “fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade.”

UPDATE: 10:20 p.m. EDT — At least 26 people have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew, 22 of them in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic, Reuters reported Wednesday. A majority of homes in Haiti’s south have been destroyed but a full assessment was impossible because communications have been knocked out.

The death toll in Haiti included eight people killed by falling trees and six swept away by swollen rivers, authorities said. The U.N. estimated 350,000 people are in need of immediate assistance, calling it the worst humanitarian event on the island since the 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000.

Millions of people are being urged to evacuate Florida’s southeastern coast in advance of what could be a direct hit.

"Everyone in our state must prepare now for a direct hit," Florida Gov. Rick Scott told a news conference in Tallahassee. "If Matthew directly impacts Florida, the destruction could be catastrophic and you need to be prepared."

matthew A man walks amongst trees damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2016. Photo: Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

UPDATE:  8:25 p.m. EDT — The National Hurricane Center reported at 8 p.m. EDT Hurricane Matthew had weakened slightly, sporting winds of 115 mph and heading northwest at 12 mph. The storm was 170 miles south-southeast of Nassau and 360 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The hurricane center said Matthew, a category 3 storm, can be expected to near the coast of Florida Thursday night and could intensify as it moves through the Bahamas. Hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles and tropical storm winds extend 175 miles.

UPDATE: 5:01 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew was 205 miles south-southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas and 400 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, as of 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving at about 12 mph and had winds of up to 120 mph.

"On this track, Matthew will be moving across the Bahamas tonight and tomorrow, and is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by tomorrow night," the center wrote, adding that the storm would likely stay a Category 3 or grow stronger over the next few days.

The worst of the rain has passed for Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, but parts of Cuba could still get up to 20 inches from Matthew. Storm surge in the Bahamas could reach 15 feet.

Here's advice on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to help Haiti recover and what kind of damage Matthew left behind.

UPDATE: 4:47 p.m. EDT — The University of Florida in Gainesville announced Wednesday that it would close Friday due to Hurricane Matthew, the Independent Florida Alligator reported. The Category 3 storm has killed 25 people so far in the Caribbean and South America and had most of the southeast United States on alert, according to NBC.

"I cannot emphasize enough that everyone in our state must prepare now for a direct hit," CNN reported Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday. "That means people have less than 24 hours to prepare, evacuate and shelter. Having a plan in place could mean the difference between life and death."

The National Hurricane Center was scheduled to issue its next update at 5 p.m. EDT.

UPDATE: 2:59 p.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew-related evacuations started Wednesday afternoon in Florida and South Carolina, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, USA Today reported. The latter was set to reverse interstate lanes at 3 p.m. EDT in order for more drivers to flee the coast.

"With winds this high and surge this high, this is not something we want to play with," WLTX reported South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday. "I don't want to sit there and talk about fatalities. Our goal is to save anybody we can."

UPDATE: 2:11 p.m. EDT — Weather Channel producer Matthew Sitkowski wrote on Twitter that Hurricane Matthew could be "the strongest hurricane on record for the Space Coast." Staff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, started preparing the nearly 50-year-old complex for the inclement weather Wednesday, ArsTechnica reported.

The center closed at 1 p.m. EDT and was set to remain shut down Thursday and Friday, according to a news release.

UPDATE: 2:02 p.m. EDT — The National Hurricane Center described Hurricane Matthew as "severe" and "aiming toward Florida" in its 2 p.m. EDT update on the giant storm. Matthew, still a Category 3, was about 70 miles north-northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba and about 70 miles south of Long Island in the Bahamas. Its maximum sustained winds had reached 120 mph.

"Interests elsewhere in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys should monitor the progress of Matthew," the center wrote. "The Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning for Cuba will likely be discontinued later today."

The University of Central Florida in Orlando announced it was closing the main campus Thursday and Friday.

UPDATE: 1:46 p.m. EDT — Boat owners in Florida are being encouraged to protect their property by removing seacrafst from the water ahead of Hurricane Matthew's arrival to the Sunshine State, CBS12.com reported Wednesday.

The office of the United Nations secretary-general issued a statement to show his concern for the citizens of the Caribbean nations who suffered Hurricane Matthew's wrath this week. Multiple deaths have been reported in Haiti and Cuba.

"The Secretary-General wishes to convey his solidarity with the people and Governments of Haiti, Cuba and other nations in the Caribbean, affected by Hurricane Matthew," the statement from a spokesman for the secretary-general reads in part.

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres will be the next UN secretary-general, it was announced Wednesday.

UPDATE: 12:26 p.m. EDT — President Barack Obama warned that Hurricane Matthew is a "devastating" storm while he was visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Obama said people in the southeast United States needed to pay attention to warnings from local leaders, according to the pool report.

"I want to emphasize to the public this is a serious storm," Obama said.

UPDATE: 12:03 p.m. EDT — Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was concerned that residents weren't taking the impending Hurricane Matthew seriously enough, the Miami Herald reported. Scott gave a news conference Wednesday urging people to evacuate if they live on islands or along the coast.

"You must leave before it’s too late," he added.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., added his voice to the hurricane conversation as well on Wednesday. "#HurricaneMatthew is a dangerous and life-threatening storm," he tweeted. "Floridians need to take today to prepare."

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. EDT — Hurricane Matthew's active threat to Haiti was downgraded Wednesday to a tropical storm warning as the system moved toward the United States. The National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. EDT update on Matthew revealed the storm was about 55 miles north-northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba and about 105 miles south of the Bahamas. It had winds up to 120 mph and was moving northwest at 12 mph.

"Hurricane conditions will gradually diminish over portions of eastern Cuba today. These conditions will continue over the southeastern Bahamas, and will spread over the central Bahamas later today and the northwestern Bahamas tonight," the update read. "Hurricane conditions are expected to first reach the hurricane warning area in Florida by late Thursday and will spread northward Thursday night and Friday."

The storm was still a Category 3.

UPDATE: 10:42 a.m. EDT — No Hurricane Matthew-related deaths have been reported yet in Cuba, where the storm made landfall Tuesday night, according to Reuters. Matthew hit Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane, but it lost strength when it encountered the mountains, AccuWeather reported.

"The walls of the station have been shaking and it just felt like something was falling. Of the paladar in front, I think there’s very little standing, very sad," local journalists said on Facebook, according to In Cuba Today.

More damage could be seen on social media:

UPDATE: 10:13 a.m. EDT — The fourth-largest school district in the country will close Thursday and Friday because of Hurricane Matthew. Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, announced on Twitter and at a news conference Wednesday that all 392 of its institutions would cut their weeks short due to bad weather.

And, yes, students were celebrating on social media:

UPDATE: 9:51 a.m. EDT — Five major cruise lines changed their ships' routes Wednesday due to Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti Tuesday and was forecast to move up the east coast of Florida later this week, according to Cruise Critic. Affected companies included Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Disney and Carnival. 

A Carnival cruise en route from Baltimore to the Turks and Caicos was forced to stop and dock in New York City on Tuesday, NBC 4 reported. The ship was scheduled to head back to Baltimore Wednesday night.

"We sincerely apologize for this disruption to our guests' vacation plans," a Carnival spokeswoman told NBC 4. "Given the unpredictability of tropical weather systems, and with guest and crew safety as our foremost priority, we are taking a prudent course of action to keep the ship out of harm's way and provide our guests with a safe and enjoyable vacation experience."

UPDATE: 9:31 a.m. EDT —  Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach pointed out on Twitter that a hurricane hasn't made landfall in South Carolina since 2004's Gaston. Gaston caused more than $130 million in damage and killed eight people. Most of the deaths resulted from people trying to drive through floodwaters, according to the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center.

Original story:

After pounding Haiti and dropping more than two feet of rain, Hurricane Matthew was moving on Wednesday — to the United States. As of 8 a.m. EDT, the Category 3 storm was about 45 miles east-northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba, and about 115 miles south of the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving north-northwest at 10 mph and had winds of 115 mph.

"On this track, Matthew will be moving across the Bahamas through Thursday, and is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening," the center wrote. "Some slight strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days."

The inclement weather triggered hurricane warnings and watches for Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and parts of Florida. Areas like eastern Cuba and the southwestern Dominican Republic were facing "life-threatening flash floods" as well as mudslides and storm surge.

In the U.S., authorities were urging residents to get ready — and get out. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency, canceled school and ordered the evacuation of more than 1.1 million people living in coastal communities starting Wednesday afternoon.

"We are preparing for a worst-case scenario, including evacuations, shelter openings and mass transit," Charleston County emergency operations spokeswoman Shawn Smetana told the Post and Courier.

The Sunshine State was also telling residents to evacuate areas like the Brevard County barrier islands. Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he had activated the National Guard. "Don’t focus on the exact track at this time. The storm will be close to our state, and a small deviation on the expected track can mean a catastrophic storm can hit your part of the state," WFTV reported Scott said. "We have to prepare for a direct hit."

The next update on the hurricane's track was scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT. In the meantime, people were buying supplies:

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.