Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded from a Category 4 to 3 – Wind speed reduces 130mph to 120mph. The eye of the storm started hitting Florida early Friday morning.
Heavy rain and strong winds have been battering Florida all night.
Two million people in have been urged to evacuate their homes in preparation for a ‘direct hit’. Thousands ignore the warnings and stayed behind to surf and party.
340,000 are already without power as anyone who has refused to evacuate is warned to hide or face fatal consequences.
At least 480 lives lost after it ripped through the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
SeaWorld, Disney World and Universal Studios have been closed.
A federal state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Hurricane Matthew will continue to affect millions along the southeastern United States coast from Florida to Georgia and the Carolinas with flooding, power outages and damaging winds into this weekend.
The curved path along the coast will create a fire hose effect of high winds, heavy rain and storm surge as the eye wall of the hurricane moves northward.
The center of Matthew was passing very close to Cape Canaveral, Florida, at daybreak, local time. Gusts topping 100 mph have occurred along the Space Coast.
The eye will roughly parallel the coast of northeastern Florida on Friday, Georgia during Friday night and South Carolina during part of Saturday. However, it is possible a westward wobble by the storm could put the eye partially over land.
Landfall by a hurricane along this stretch of coast is extremely rare.
“Since the mid-1800s, when reliable records have been kept, no Category 4 storm or greater has ever made landfall along the upper Atlantic coast of Florida,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
Along the immediate Atlantic coast from central Florida through Georgia, gusts can reach or exceed 100 mph as the western part of the outer eye wall moves along. Winds this strong can cause significant property damage and widespread power outages.
A general swath of 6-12 inches of rain will be along the coast from central Florida northward to southern North Carolina. Locally higher amounts are possible.
As Atlantic Ocean water is pushed inland, a storm surge (total inundation) of 6-10 feet will occur along low-lying areas of the coast from central Florida to South Carolina.