Hurricane Matthew continues north, eye flirts with southeast coast

Chief meteorologist Brad Panovich provides update on Hurricane Matthew for Friday afternoon

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hurricane Matthew continues to travel north, hugging Florida's east coast with the storm's center sitting directly off the coast. 

A new eyewall has formed and is 40 to 50 miles across. The strongest winds are within the new eyewall and are reaching 120 mph.

The hurricane is directly offshore from Daytona Beach. The area is facing sustained winds of 60 - 70 mph as the storm passes.

Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich says first eyewall is decaying while the new eyewall is wobbling while it moves up the coast, creating a chance of landfall. Matthew's center continues to flirt with the coastline. The National Hurricane Center said the eyewall of 'dangerous' Hurricane Matthew is hugging the coast of Central Florida. The eyewall brushed Cape Canaveral on the Florida coast Friday morning.



However, even if Hurricane Matthew does not make landfall, Panovich says it will have a "massive impact on the southeast coast."

The massive storm, currently a Category 3 hurricane, could produce huge amounts of rain and deadly storm surges of up to 11 feet. Persistent offshore winds may increase the chance of storm surge. Panovich predicts threats of storm surges in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and even North Carolina.

By 2 a.m. Saturday the hurricane should still be a Category 3. "I actually think it might weaken a little more because it's getting into cooler water," Panovich says. 

The storm is anticipated to reach Charleston by 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon as a Category 1 which may be the hurricane's closest approach to making landfall. 

Hurricane Matthew is expected to make a sharp right turn by 2 a.m. Sunday morning and looping back out to sea.

According to Florida Power and Light, there are over 470,000 power outages throughout the sunshine state and the number continues to grow.

As the hurricane continues to move north, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina prep.

In her last press conference Friday before Hurricane Matthew arrived, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said the storm is worsening. 

"This is the last time you'll hear my voice asking you to evacuate," the governor said. "There is nothing safe about what's getting ready to happen." 

As of Friday afternoon, 310,000 residents have evacuated in South Carolina. The governor said they typically want half a million residents to evacuate, especially the 100 residents who remain on the Barrier Islands.

"We can't get them to leave," she said. "It will be underwater."

Law enforcement officers plan to remain in threatened areas until the storm becomes too dangerous. The South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that all transit agencies along the South Carolina coast will be discontinuing emergency evacuation at noon on Friday.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said Friday that Hurricane Matthew's latest forecast also is causing concern for North Carolina. 



"My biggest fear right now based on past experiences in North Carolina is things just stall and sit, or move more inland," the governor said.

Multiple resources have been employed to prepare North Carolina for potential impact. The governor said swift water rescue teams are ready, the state emergency response team has been deployed and high water vehicles are now in stage. 

Governor McCrory also warned residents of prolonged power outages. 

"Just don't assume because your power's out, you're going to be priority," he said. 

Hurricane force winds extend out about 60 miles and tropical force storm winds extend out around 185 miles. 

"This storm's a monster," Florida Governor Rick Scott warned as it started lashing the state with periodic heavy rains and squalls around nightfall Thursday. He added: "I'm going to pray for everybody's safety."

A hurricane warning remains in effect from the Savannah area to Charleston. A hurricane watch is in effect for the south-facing beaches of North Carolina up to Wilmington.

Gusty winds are expected from the coast into Charlotte. A flash flood watch remains as rains are predicted for the Charlotte region.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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