As Hurricane Matthew approached the United States Thursday, states along the Southern Eastern Coast began to prepare for the worst. Coastal communities, including places like Miami and Orlando, braced for impact as one of the worst storms in years barreled through the Caribbean.
Projections showed that Hurricane Matthew would make landfall in Florida sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning with wind speeds between 131 and 155 miles per hour as a Category 4 hurricane. From there, the storm was expected to make its way north along the Eastern seaboard, gradually losing momentum as it drops to a Category 1 hurricane with wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour early Sunday.
The storm was projected to eventually move east out to sea starting at the southern end of North Carolina, sparing states to the north like Virginia, New Jersey and New York.
In Florida, hurricane and tropical storm warnings targeted much of the state Thursday. The storm was expected to hit just north of Miami — where warnings told residents to close storm shutters and stay away from glass — before moving north, hitting West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. Tourism-friendly Orlando was situated in a hurricane warning zone. Most of the Western portion of the state, including Tampa, was in a tropical storm watch zone, while much of the center of the state was in a tropical storm warning zone Thursday.
Residents along the Georgia and South Carolina from Savannah to Charleston and Myrtle Beach were expected to be in the hurricane’s path. Mass evacuations were ordered in coastal areas.
If predictions prove correct, Matthew would be the strongest hurricane in at least a decade. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has said the evacuation could be the “biggest evacuation ever” in the state’s history and has warned that the storm is potentially very deadly.
“This will kill you,” Scott said Thursday as he urged residents to evacuate and make sure that anyone in a dangerous zone that people may know also evacuate.