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Gov. Scott To East Coast Residents: 'Leave Now' Before Hurricane Matthew Hits

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
Hurricane Matthew

Update: 4:26 p.m. Tuesday: Evacuation orders could be issued later Tuesday for parts of Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew.

The Category 4 hurricane is expected to hit the Bahamas overnight and then skirt the East Coast of Florida. Some forecast models show the hurricane moving further ashore, while others have it staying over the Atlantic, with bands of wind and rain affecting about half the Florida peninsula.

In Nassau County Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott said anyone on the East Coast should “leave now,” with the storm expected to start affecting Northeast Florida as soon as tomorrow night. The worst is expected in the region on Friday.

“The probability of hurricane-strength winds continues to increase. But, again, this could quickly change and become much worse. These are all projections, and we must prepare to be hit by a catastrophic-force storm,” Scott said.

Hurricane conditions are possible along the Treasure Coast as early as Thursday afternoon.

Tropical Storm conditions are also possible in the watch areas at some point Thursday or Friday as Hurricane Matthew nears the coast. Whether or not the eye comes ashore in Florida is still highly uncertain.

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National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb says even if the center stays offshore, which is also possible, we could still experience some impacts.

“There are significant chances of winds of tropical storm force occurring over inland areas over the next few days," he said. "Don’t just think of this as a coastal event in terms of what may happen.”

Residents in the watch areas have roughly 48 hours to prepare, and Rick says knowing where you live in relation to the potential hazards is key.

“Find out right now – today – if you live in a storm surge evacuation zone, so that if officials tell you to evacuate, you’ve already thought about where you’re going to go and how you will get there,” he said. 

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in on the western side of Haiti at 7 am Tuesday morning. The eastern tip of Cuba is likely to take a direct hit from the Category 4 storm Tuesday night. Wednesday, the storm is forecast to turn to the north-northwest be traversing the island chain of The Bahamas. Thereafter, the storm is likely to parallel the east coast of Florida through Friday, before turning out to sea and pulling away from the state Saturday.