CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hurricane Matthew continues to make it's way towards the Southeast United States and the National Hurricane Center is advising more residents to brace themselves.
The National Hurricane Center Thursday morning advisory extended their warning further north in Florida and into South Carolina and Georgia.
The hurricane warning now covers up to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, as well as to South Santee River, South Carolina.
The storm is gaining strength after bashing the Bahamas Thursday night and has continued its track north towards the United States' southeast region, threatening Florida as a potential category 4 storm. It is expected to arrive in Florida around 2 a.m. Friday.
"Florida, full precautions, this is going to be a major hurricane affecting the East Coast," Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said.
A heavy storm for Florida as well as for South Carolina and Georgia's coasts. Meteorologist Sarah Fortner warns South Carolinians that even though it might not be a category 4 storm by the time it passes by, "this storm is going to slingshot a lot of water and a lot of wind up against the South Carolina coast."
South Carolinians began evacuations earlier this week after Governor Haley told residents to begin storm preparation and evacuation Tuesday.
Fortner says there's a lack of confidence as to what the storm will do four or five days out but the possibility of it making a sharp right turn is still strong.
The low pressure of nearby tropical storm Nicole may change Hurricane Matthew's route. Panovich says the low pressures of nearby tropical storm Nicole may attract the hurricane, creating the possibility of a sharp right turn before hitting North Carolina's coast.
"Still have your precautions and plans in place, but don't act on them yet," Panovich warned North Carolinians.
In a press conference Wednesday, North Carolina Governor McCrory urged North Carolinians and visitors to closely follow the storm and listen to any evacuation orders.
"The storm is still working in North Carolina's advantage as it hopefully continues to move east," the governor said. "It's basically working against Florida, Georgia and South Carolina's advantage and we're going to do everything we can to help those states."
Earlier this week Hurricane Matthew battered Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic with at least eight people reported dead.
“Many of our central and eastern counties are already saturated from storms during the past few weeks,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “With additional rain and heavy winds in the forecast, we are preparing for additional flooding, downed trees and widespread power outages in the coming days.”
On Monday, Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency in 66 of North Carolina's 100 counties. The declaration will expedite the movement and activation of resources, such as the National Guard. McCrory also waived restrictions for truckers on hours of service and weight limits in an effort help farmers harvest their crops, quickly restore power and expedite debris removal.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is prepositioning equipment and personnel along the coastline, and ferry operations are working to expedite the transportation of residents and visitors off Ocracoke Island and the Outer Banks.
The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings along the coast of Florida. Hurricane watch is in effect from Deerfield Beach, Florida, to the Volusia/Brevard County line.
As of now, rain and wind is expected in the Charlotte area this weekend.
Be prepared for the storm
1. Determine if you are in a storm surge zone:
Residents living in storm surge zones may be ordered to evacuate. Evacuation zones will be identified by local emergency managers through the news media. You also should know if your home is located in a flood plain. These areas suffer from heavy rains associated with hurricanes. Visit ncfloodmaps.com to determine if you are in a flood zone.
2. Gather supplies and prepare an emergency kit:
To prepare for a hurricane or any disaster, it is best to have an emergency kit available. This kit should contain nonperishable food, water (one gallon/person/day) and clothing to sustain each family member for three to seven days. The kit should include a flashlight, radio and spare batteries. Blankets, rain gear and appropriate footwear also are recommended. Special considerations must be made for the young or disabled. Remember to include baby food and medicines as appropriate. In addition, the kit should include photo copies of important family documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies. A complete checklist of items for your emergency kit can be found here.
3. Fuel cars, obtain cash and secure important documents:
Residents should fill their cars with gasoline and have enough cash on hand to last a week in case they are ordered to evacuate. During power-outages, gas stations and ATM machines do not work. It is also important to secure original copies of documents in a waterproof container in case of flooding.
4. Obtain supplies to protect the home:
If residents are ordered to evacuate, there will be little time to protect their homes from the storm. Supplies, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casing pre-drilled. Homeowners should clear their property of all debris that could damage buildings in strong winds. Cars should be stored in the garage.
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