Florida spared worst of storm but deadly menace still looms

Death toll in Haiti rises to 842, reports say, with 15,000 displaced

Video: Scientists’ plane flies into eye of Hurricane Matthew

6.13am BST

According to sogging wet Weather Channel reporter/meteorologist Chris Warren, who has been heroically standing on Folly Beach near Charleston for several hours, the rain in the area now has a “pinging quality to it.”

Wettest man alive rn pic.twitter.com/RXnr9wyz7U

There is a very brave wx dude standing on Folly Beach, SC. #Matthew

That poor @weatherchannel reporter in Folly Beach needs a break! Poor guy! #HurricaneMatthew

Pitch dark in Folly Beach. Not comforting while waiting out #HurricaneMatthew. @WLOS_13 pic.twitter.com/pOZD6X6e9q

5.53am BST

This is a report from a buoy 40 nautical miles southeast of Savannah.

Grays Reef Buoy 41008 off GA coast is now reporting calm winds after gusting to 68 knots the last hour. Maybe in the eye?? #Matthew

Our Global Hawk takes #HurricaneMatthew's temperature to help measure its intensity. (Eyewall is also shown.) https://t.co/ySqhnPgJc6 pic.twitter.com/h1z2zBaFnJ

The NASA Global Hawk is heading home, but not before taking one last look inside #Matthew’s spiral bands. pic.twitter.com/azDxc1WUeD

5.42am BST

Meanwhile, in Florida.

We have over 180 shelters open – over 23,000 people are in our shelters now. We will have an updated shelter count at midnight.

The eye of Hurricane #Matthew is just off the coast of Georgia. Storm surge flooding continues in northeast Florida. Stay indoors!

5.39am BST

Emergency services have issued a flash flood warning for lower-lying inland suburbs of Savannah, from now until 6.15am.

High tide is expected to hit in 60 to 90 minutes.

⚠️ Move to higher ground! Flash Flood Warning including Statesboro GA and Rincon GA until 6:15 AM EDT pic.twitter.com/fqOT79ucL4

Hurricane #Matthew is now tied with Frances (2004) for 8th most Accumulated Cyclone Energy by a hurricane in the satellite era (since 1966). pic.twitter.com/DLTPJ0ziTW

5.13am BST

The National Weather Service is warning of a “life-threatening” storm surge along the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines.

11PM #Matthew update: Center to pass GA coast, come close to CHS near daybreak w/ life-threatening surge along GA/SC coasts! #scwx #gawx

Tides along the GA/SC coasts rising as high tide approaches! If in a surge prone area, be sure you are not near ground level! #scwx #gawx

Center of #HurricaneMatthew getting closer to land again given its direction of movement & shape of coast [radar courtesy @CODMeteorology] pic.twitter.com/l30BWWyf47

4.58am BST

In a small bit of good news, the tornado watch has been called off.

#Tornado WATCH expires for Beaufort, Hampton & Jasper County (SC) and Bryan, Chatham & Effingham County (GA). #gawx #scwx #HurricaneMatthew

4.57am BST

While we focus on Hurricane Matthew, Tropical Storm Nicole is still blowing in the Atlantic, about 880km north of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Nicole was downgraded from a Hurricane early on Friday. The maximum sustained winds speeds are 96km/h, according to the US National Hurricane Centre, Reuters reports.

We now have TWO hurricanes in the Atlantic. #Matthew and #Nicole. #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/N68oLr93Pg

4.46am BST

This is what the storm surge looked like in Jacksonville, Florida.

This just speaks for itself #JaxBeach #FCNStorm pic.twitter.com/KDzz4ycLot

Tree falls on the Southside #firstalertwx #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/4XcuiWCDRH

Yes....that is a shark. #HurricaneMatthew #PrayForFL #prayforflorida pic.twitter.com/VsyYlHAF1W

4.32am BST

Hurricane Matthew is about 70 miles south-south-east of Savannah, with the worst expected to hit in a few hours.

The Weather Channel’s Michael Lowry says it could be the most devastating impact so far in the US. The risk is that the storm surge will coincide with high tide and break the record storm surge seen in Hurricane King in 1947.

Scary night ahead for #Savannah. Possibly the worst we've seen on land from #Matthew at high tide, at night, w/ lots of city in the dark pic.twitter.com/XIdZ8rI4WW

#Savannah has a very real possibility of breaking an 80+ year storm #surge record tonight w/ #Matthew. High tide at 1:22 AM ET. #gawx pic.twitter.com/xyorKSJlUT

BREAKING: River St is now closed in #Savannah. Police have blocked it off #Matthew pic.twitter.com/PhWUMdNOmv

#RiverStreet in #Savannah, #Georgia is almost literally a part of the river. Many good times spent here, hope they can recover quickly. pic.twitter.com/5KGacu5rCc

Due to deteriorating weather conditions, #Savannah Fire has suspended response to calls.

4.13am BST

Reuters has reported that the death toll in Haiti has risen to 877, according to local officials.

4.09am BST

Hello, Calla Wahlquist here, taking over from Bonnie. The storm is now off the coast of Savannah and is expected to send a storm surge up the Savannah River, with tides of almost 3m, according to the weather channel.

The worst of the storm is expected to reach Charleston by Saturday morning, according to the 11pm advisory from the National Hurricane Centre.

Here's the 11pm forecast for #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/FK7cJRA4B8

Strong winds and very wet atmosphere observed from our evening weather balloon. #Matthew #scwv #chswx pic.twitter.com/0bvakvbkMs

3.35am BST

As the clouds start to dissipate in Florida, the extent of the damage wrought by Matthew is becoming clear.

As seen in Flagler Beach this afternoon. Utter devastation from Matthew. Photo: Natalie Palmer #flwx @Fox4Now pic.twitter.com/9e5XxHnTir

3.26am BST

As Savannah and Charleston brace for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, things in Florida are looking up.

#HurricaneMatthew is now well north of SW Florida and gorgeous views are leading us into what will be a pretty nice and amazing weekend! pic.twitter.com/uaWbLl7yv3

3.23am BST

The US is sending the USS Mesa Verde, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, to Haiti to help with the response to the storm, which killed more than 800 people there when it blew through earlier this week, according to Reuters.

#USNavy #USSMesaVerde steams toward #Haiti in response to #HurricaneMatthew - https://t.co/Y6i1g0HT6j (File photo) pic.twitter.com/q9neslPpd4

3.01am BST

The governor of Georgia has called in 1000 extra National Guards to help with the emergency response as fears grow that the city could be hit with a huge storm surge.

I've called up 1000 add'l @GeorgiaGuard to assist state & local authorities w/ #Matthew emergency response. 2000 guardsmen now activated.

#Savannah has a very real possibility of breaking an 80+ year storm #surge record tonight w/ #Matthew. High tide at 1:22 AM ET. #gawx pic.twitter.com/xyorKSJlUT

2.57am BST

The National Weather Service in Charleston has issued a flash flooding alert for large parts of Savannah.

⚠️ Move to higher ground! Flash Flood Warning continues for Savannah GA until 5:45 AM EDT pic.twitter.com/1azte9VzHc

2.54am BST

Hello, Bonnie Malkin here, taking over from Nicky as attention turns from Florida to Georgia, where Hurricane Matthew is approaching Savannah.

Footage from the coastal city, known around the world for its antebellum architecture and oak trees covered in Spanish moss, shows that the severe weather has well and truly arrived.

#Matthew in #Savannah #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/Ai5EcO6dSo

Want to know what #Savannah #Georgia looks like under curfew as #HurricaneMatthew hits? pic.twitter.com/6eX1tKAM2T

2.44am BST

I’m now handing you over to my colleague Bonnie Malkin, who will bring you live updates throughout the night.

2.29am BST

A Florida couple are planning to still have their wedding tomorrow at 5pm on Florida’s Cocoa Beach, despite Hurricane Matthew hitting the area hard all day today.

Jaime Gurnavage, who plans to go ahead with her marriage to Ryan Gordan, said:

We’re definitely going to have a beach wedding no matter what - I have been planning this wedding for the past year, down to every last detail, from a whimsical wedding on the shore of Cocoa Beach to the classic beach-chic reception with an amazing Caribbean dinner spread with a magical floating sky lantern send off into the night’s sky overlooking the ocean to finish off the evening.

2.20am BST

Hurricane Matthew has now moved into Georgia state waters, and its coastal regions are beginning to feel its effects in earnest:

Coastal Georgia getting blasted by rain, wind, rising surge from #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/H2nyFZ7j5e

Great sunset tonight in West Palm Beach, FL as we make our way to Wrightsville Beach, NC via Atlanta to get ahead of #Matthew pic.twitter.com/DbiPBcZPHH

Sunset after the storm in Delray Beach. by @CBS12 Humberto Omena. Prayers continue for those impacted #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/nqguyxTE70

2.06am BST

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that a woman died from a heart attack after rescuers couldn’t get to her in St Lucie county, bringing the death toll to five - three in St Lucie county, including an elderly couple who died from carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in their home, and two killed by falling trees, one in Volusia county, another in Putnam County.

1.51am BST

It’s looking like Florida may have escaped the fiercest winds of Hurricane Matthew, and the storm is just about leaving the state now - its center is off the coast of Georgia, heading slowly north towards Savannah.

Hold On Florida-- Hurricane Matthew is about to exit your state. Moving so slow at 12 mph! pic.twitter.com/O9TR09yqgx

Why I'm REALLY concerned about Georgia & SC coast tonight #Matthew @JimCantore @daveclark @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/58ESVKF0eN

1.33am BST

Hurricane Matthew, weakened but still a formidable storm, continued to pound the northern Florida coastline on Friday afternoon, renewing fears of life-threatening flooding in Jacksonville and other low-lying, heavily populated cities further north, including Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, reports Richard Luscombe from Miami.

After the category 3 storm’s punishing slow crawl up Florida’s eastern coast earlier in the day, which left more than a million residents without power, focus turned away from the strength of its wide wind field and towards the threat posed by the substantial storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Matthew to a category 2 storm in its 5pm advisory but said that the surge, forecast to reach up to nine feet in vulnerable areas such as the St John’s river that runs through central Jacksonville, could lead to “life-threatening inundation” during the next 36 hours as far as Cape Fear, North Carolina.

NHC senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila said that Matthew, which killed hundreds in Haiti during its earlier march through the Caribbean, still had more misery to spread. “We have been very fortunate that Matthew’s strongest winds have remained a short distance offshore of the Florida coast thus far, but this should not be a reason to let down our guard,” he said in the advisory.

“The water hazards remain, even if the core of Matthew remains offshore.”

1.19am BST

Hurricane Matthew is now centered off the North Florida / South Georgia coast, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. It is moving north at 12mph, with sustained windspeeds of 110mph.

This incredible video shows the extent of flooding in St Augustine, Florida, which bore the brunt of the storm earlier today:

Video shows flooding in St. Augustine, Florida, as a result of Hurricane #Matthew https://t.co/AHoKaEZNQL pic.twitter.com/DYySHptYCF

It's picking up. Here's at fresh look where I am on the Battery pic.twitter.com/PIBnTJEyCU

1.07am BST

“Hurricane Matthew has further exacerbated the already severe epidemic of cholera in Haiti, as millions of people go without safe drinking water,” said Michael Posner, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and co-director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, in an email to the Guardian.

Cholera did not exist in Haiti until a UN peacekeeping force contaminated public waters after yet another natural disaster, an earthquake, killed 200,000 people in 2010. Since then, almost 800,000 people have been infected with the disease, and close to 30,000 have died.

It’s time that the UN and its member states align their development and human rights agendas and come up with a viable plan to prevent further infection so the death toll from cholera ceases to escalate.

12.45am BST

Canada is pledging $300,000 in aid to Haiti for disaster relief after Hurricane Matthew killed upwards of 800 people and flattened entire communities, reports the Canadian Global News.

In a press release, the Canadian government said:

On October 6, 2016, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency relief operation to support the Haitian Red Cross Society in providing immediate assistance to approximately 50,000 people for twelve months. The operation will focus on meeting the health, water and sanitation, and shelter needs to those affected by the floods in the departments of Sud, Grand Anse, Nippes, Sud-est, Ouest and Nord-ouest.

Canada is supporting this emergency relief operation through the Canadian Red Cross Society.

12.23am BST

Matthew Kelsch, a meteorologist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, just sent the Guardian this analysis over email:

The storm center (and its narrow radius of extreme winds) is completely offshore. It is moving north as the nearby coastline bends to the northwest, so the storm is getting farther from the coast. The geometry changes over the next 24h (beginning Friday evening) because the coastline of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina bends back to the northeast.

Although the storm may also start bending more to the northeast, that probably won’t happen until the storm center draws nearer to the coastline. The storm may actually make a brief landfall in South Carolina on Friday as a category 1 or 2 hurricane. The storm did not make landfall in Florida which was a great relief because that kept the strongest winds just offshore.

12.04am BST

The Associated Press has released this extraordinary video, taken from the cockpit of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flying through the eyewall and into the eye of Hurricane Matthew.

11.45pm BST

As the storm moves north up the Atlantic seaboard away from Florida towards Georgia and South Carolina, parts of Florida are now beginning the process of assessing the damage caused.

Governor Rick Scott just tweeted:

Damage assessments are happening now in South Florida and Central. They will continue as the storm passes each county.

11.32pm BST

The American Red Cross has mobilized more than 1800 people to help with Hurricane Matthew response:

1,800+ Red Crossers have mobilized to support evacuation shelters & #HurricaneMatthew response. Ways you can help: https://t.co/watYvIGLAh pic.twitter.com/Ys3YBYLmaG

In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross strongly urges eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need.

Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

11.17pm BST

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley just gave a press conference.

She warned that storm surges were beginning to take effect, but said that 350,000 people had been successfully evacuated from coastal areas, and 2500 national guardsmen had been activated to deal with the storm’s effects.

10.56pm BST

Waffle House - the Georgia-headquartered fast food chain which prides itself on keeping locations open even in dire conditions, has closed 25 restaurants in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, it announced in a tweet earlier today:

Update - 25 restaurants closed in FL, GA & SC #Matthew

Here’s the gist of it: Waffle House restaurants notoriously stay open during natural disasters. So if the diner closes during an event, that suggests it was a really bad natural disaster with devastating effects on the economy. And on the flip side, if it stays open and serving a full menu, damage was relatively limited.

As a historical reference point: after 2011’s Hurricane Irene, 22 Waffle Houses lost power in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Only one wasn’t open by the Wednesday after the storm passed through — a particularly hard hit location in coastal Virginia.

10.38pm BST

An elderly couple in St Lucie county who had been taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in their home have died.

That takes the death toll in the US from Hurricane Matthew to four.

So far, four deaths can be attributed to #HurricaneMatthew -- 3 in St Luicie Co., 1 in Volusia Co.

Please if you are using generators - do not use them indoors. Keep them as far away from the home as possible #HurricaneMatthew

10.28pm BST

The mayor of tiny Tybee Island, Georgia, was so worried about his constituents that he was calling them personally, pleading with them to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew. But the beer kept flowing at Calvin Ratterree’s bar, where about a dozen holdouts gathered for lunch, reports the Associated Press.

“I’m worried, but we’ve got friends across the street with a third-floor condo,” said Ratteree, who owns Nickie’s 1971 bar about a block from Georgia’s largest public beach. “I’m committed. I’d rather be here with the people that support me and need me.”

The 3,000 people who live on Tybee Island, 18 miles east of Savannah, were ordered to evacuate Wednesday. Most left, some of them hitting the road at the last-minute Friday as Matthew churned toward Georgia from the coast of Florida.

“This is what happens when you don’t have a hurricane for 100 years,” Buelterman said. “People get complacent. They just don’t know. Thankfully, it’s a very small minority.”

Among those Buelterman called was Steve Todd, who was having a drink with neighbors at Ratterree’s bar. Todd made sure his wife and child and their two dogs evacuated. He said he stayed behind to guard his home and belongings, fearing he otherwise might not be able to return for a week or more.

10.12pm BST

Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center issued just now.

In a release, the center said that “we have been very fortunate that Matthew’s strongest winds have remained a short distance offshore of the Florida Coast thus far, but this should not be a reason to let down our guard,” adding that only a small deviation to the left of the forecast track could bring the winds onshore.

10.03pm BST

Some pictures of the flooding on Florida’s Atlantic coast as Hurricane Matthew slams low-lying towns with heavy rain and heavy storm-surge:

9.47pm BST

The US Geological Survey (USGS) is working to try to work out what effect this storm could have on coastal erosion.

In a release, Hilary Stockdon, a research oceanographer with the USGS, said that “strong winds will create dangerous waves and surge over a large stretch of the coastline, leading to extensive beach and dune erosion.”

Results of the modeling indicate Hurricane Matthew could have a significant impact on the beaches and dunes of the Southeastern United States.

As of Thursday morning, the coastal change model estimates that Florida’s large eastern coastline has an 80-percent likely chance of beach erosion from Miami to the state border.

As waves and surge reach higher than the top of the dune, overwash occurs, often transporting large amounts of sand across coastal environments, depositing sand inland and causing significant changes to the landscape.

9.34pm BST

More than 1m people in Florida are now without power, the Associated Press is reporting.

State officials released updated totals on Friday that showed that the powerful Category 3 storm had knocked out electricity over a wide stretch of the state’s eastern coast.

Most of the customers in Flagler and Volusia County the home to Daytona Beach were without power. Other hard hit areas include Brevard and Indian River counties.

HAPPENING NOW: Parts of Jacksonville Beach Pier have been ripped away into ocean. @wjxt4 #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/ZK3dRPgwrv

9.24pm BST

Some more granular detail on what to expect over the next day or so from the National Hurricane Center.

Matthew is expected to change little in intensity during the next 6 to 12 hours, but it should begin to weaken at a faster pace in 24 hours.

Matthew is reaching the northwestern edge of the subtropical ridge and encounter the mid-latitude westerlies. This flow pattern should steer the hurricane northward and then northeastward during the next 36 hours. After that time, the flow pattern is forecast to change again and a weakening Matthew should then turn southward and southwestward.

9.20pm BST

A woman in Volusia County, Florida, was killed by a falling tree after going out to feed her animals, officials said.

8.56pm BST

So far, Hurricane Matthew has spared Florida its worst winds, with the eye-wall only glancingly striking parts of the coast, Dr Steven Godby, an expert on natural hazards at Nottingham Trent University, told the Guardian.

Matthew is grazing the coast of Florida without quite making landfall as the forecast models have been predicting and, if this remains the case, then the Florida coast will be spared the most powerful winds which are wrapped around the storm’s inner core.

On the downside this means that the north Florida and Georgia coastlines can expect several hours of high winds, enough to cause structural damage and affect power supplies.

A very large hurricane #Matthew continues to rotate northward along the east cost of Florida Friday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/1b5ckfEzLL

8.46pm BST

According to the latest National Hurricane Center position update, issued at 3PM EST, the center of Hurricane Matthew is about 25 miles off the east coast of Florida between St Augustine and Jacksonville, and is currently moving north/northwest at 12 miles an hour.

This is the opposite view @RussellANjax had. People looking out from St. Augustine B&B at rising water. @ActionNewsJax #HurricaneMatthew pic.twitter.com/ahdB6X7izQ

8.39pm BST

It’s not just people who need to hunker down for a storm like Hurricane Matthew: zoos and wildlife parks face unique challenges in keeping their animals safe from the storm - and from each other - in confined spaces while they wait for the storm to pass.

St Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in St Augustine, Florida, has moved all its birds and mammals to the concrete safety of the Komodo Dragon building, and the park has been giving regular updates via its Facebook page:

8.22pm BST

Nicky Woolf here, taking over from my colleague Jessica Glenza.

Hurricane Matthew’s trail of destruction in Haiti has stunned those viewing the aftermath, with the number of dead soaring as high as 842.

“It happened so quickly and suddenly,” the 10-year-old told aid workers. “I heard my neighbour screaming: ‘Water! Water everywhere!’ It had completely surrounded us.”

Rosemika and her brothers and sisters ran, terrified, to the sanctuary of the hills. Like some of her friends in Haiti’s Ouest department, they lost their home to the fury of the wind and the rain.

Three days after the storm, it remains unclear how many of them need urgent assistance as damage to road infrastructure continues to hamper assessment and relief efforts.

“We’re still far from having a full picture of the extent of the damage,” said Marc Vincent, Unicef Representative in Haiti. “We are hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst.”

7.56pm BST

Dr. Rick Knabb of the National Hurricane Center and storm surge team lead Jamie Rhome just gave an update on Hurricane Matthew’s impacts along the east coast, reiterating their warning to leave evacuation zones if possible.

“Unfortunately, the track just offshore in Florida gave people the impression that, ‘Ooo, we’ve dodged a bullet here,’” said Jamie Rhome. That was not the case, he said. “Clearly, you’re seeing the flooding and Jacksonville and Georgia.”

7.46pm BST

We’re now listening to an update from Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Florida. Watch with us via the Periscope link below.

Join @NHCDirector Dr. Rick Knabb live on Periscope at 2:40 p.m. EDT this afternoon for the latest on #Matthew https://t.co/Bx7unjQdO1 @NOAA pic.twitter.com/xZSolueiNL

7.36pm BST

Even though millions of residents along the east coast received orders to evacuate, not all heeded those warnings. Among them is Arthur Cohen, 63, a Jacksonville Beach resident riding out the storm. Cohen described the decision of whether to follow evacuation orders as an emotional one.

“I was feeling good initially, a little anxious yesterday,” said Cohen. “But then, when I saw the further forecast and spoke to people about the building, I felt good again, and I feel very good now. I am very safe.”

7.11pm BST

We just received an update from the National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Matthew’s projected path.

5.56pm BST

Further south in Titusville, west of Cape Canaveral and south of Daytona, residents are surveying the damage left by Matthew, even without a “direct hit”.

Brian Farmer takes photos in the Bay Towers apartments in Titusville where #HurricaneMatthew tore the roof off, at least 50 displaced pic.twitter.com/eaVHBsYGDO

5.42pm BST

Jacksonville-based television reporter Russell Colburn tweeted this stunning video from St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the America, where he reports 20 people are trapped in a bed and breakfast.

20 people, including children, stuck in #StAugustine bed & breakfast. They say they're getting worried, as the surge is about to come in. pic.twitter.com/EMgX2UqBwb

5.28pm BST

Reporter Richard Luscombe has just delivered us this update from Florida, as Hurricane Matthew heads north toward Jacksonville.

Downed power lines and fallen trees appeared to be the worst of the damage in Martin and St Lucie counties to the south. Bill Snyder, the Martin County sheriff, said he believed his county had “dodged a bullet”.

“This could have been much worse,” he said. “It’s going to be a busy day but we are in good shape and God has truly blessed our area.”

With Matthew forecasted to arrive off the coast of Georgia late Friday or early Saturday, Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state, freeing federal resources for rescue and recovery efforts. The president signed a similar declaration for 28 counties along Florida’s east coast on Thursday.

In South Carolina, officials were preparing for a storm surge of 6-10ft and were continuing evacuations from coastal communities ahead of the storm’s arrival. In its 8am advisory, the NHC said Matthew would have weakened to a minor hurricane strength by then, with its shrinking wind field posing a reduced threat.

5.14pm BST

Hurricane Matthew is now moving north along the Florida coast away from Daytona Beach and toward Jacksonville. In Daytona, the National Weather Service reports that winds are easing, but still hurricane force.

The latest observation had sustained winds at 73 mph on Daytona Beach, with gusts up to 91 mph. Hurricane force, beginning at category 1, is 74 mph.

4.53pm BST

Here is a great illustration of what South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is so concerned about – the latest storm surge predictions now include nearly all of North Carolina’s coast.

The 11am Friday prototype storm surge warning now extends from Florida to N. Carolina. #Matthew @NOAA @NHCDirector https://t.co/R5OOOwlIzd pic.twitter.com/vTSCR5R66I

4.40pm BST

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement on Hurricane Matthew, including an official plea for people to evacuate, and a message to campaign volunteers.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Matthew, and my heart is broken for the victims and their families in Haiti, Cuba, the Caribbean, and Florida.

This is a serious storm, and it has already caused serious damage. If you get an evacuation order, please follow it immediately...

4.32pm BST

As Hurricane Matthew moves northward, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley updated predictions for the storm’s impact on her state.

“We hoped it would relieve a little bit of the situation,” Haley said about the storm, adding, “We think it is getting worse.”

4.19pm BST

Anyone trying to fly in or out of Florida and Georgia today is likely to have a difficult time.

Airports up and down the coast canceled flights in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, including nearly all of today’s flights out of Orlando International Airport, and the vast majority out of Sanford, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Savannah, Georgia.

4.01pm BST

President Obama just gave us an update on how the White House is monitoring Hurricane Matthew. He made specific mention of Jacksonville, Florida and the Georgia coast as areas of concern.

What we’re seeing now is Matthew, having moved above south Florida and some of the largest population centers, working its way north,” said Obama.

“The big concern people are having now is the effects it could have in areas like Jacksonville on through Georgia.”

I just want to emphasize to everybody – this is still a really dangerous hurricane. The potential for storm surge, flooding, loss of life and severe property damage continues to exist, and people need to follow the instructions of their local officials over the course of the next 24, 48, 72 hours,” Obama said.

3.40pm BST

Officials are increasingly turning their attention to Jacksonville, Florida, on the northeast coast.

This interactive map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows why – the city and areas just north are predicted to be some of the areas worst hit by Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge.

A major hurricane not impacted this area in 118 years, since October 2nd 1898. unlike any hurricane in the modern era. #HurricaneMatthew

3.27pm BST

As has been repeated in this blog, and by officials at the National Hurricane Center, storm surge is the most dangerous part of a hurricane.

Storm surges are caused by high winds that push water onshore, and inland through waterways. Because of the flood potential of waterways, storm surge damage can extend miles inland.

3.16pm BST

Some incredible videos show just how powerful Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge can be.

For a sense of scale, take a look at the lamp post in the right, the base of which is completely underwater.

WOW! Look at the storm surge, waves & wind in Daytona Beach. @hbwx @TenaciousTopper @AllysonRaeWx #Matthew https://t.co/KZOZPlgHt5 pic.twitter.com/Tjmv76sSl6

2.54pm BST

Florida Governor Rick Scott mentioned another important piece of information about Lake Okeechobee in his update: that the US Army Corps of Engineers are assessing potential damage.

The lake was already the subject of a local emergency earlier this year, when the Army Corps released water from the lake to avoid damaging notoriously old levees.

2.35pm BST

Florida Governor Rick Scott just updated the nation on Hurricane Matthew’s impacts so far. Here are the highlights:

2.15pm BST

We just received an update from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Matthew now has sustained winds at 121 mph with gusts up to 150mph.

2.01pm BST

We are waiting for Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, to update us on Hurricane Matthew’s projected path.

Meanwhile, more than 470 people are now believed dead in Haiti.

The number of people killed in Haiti by the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew rose to at least 478 on Friday as rescue workers and aid agencies battled to reach remote areas of the country, assess the damage and deliver relief.

The hurricane, which hit Haiti on Tuesday, brought 145mph winds and torrential rains that destroyed more than 3,200 homes, displaced 15,000 people, ruined plantations and drowned animals. The toll leapt on Thursday night as receding waters revealed more bodies.

1.44pm BST

The Vero Beach Press Journal has reported the first death in the United States associated with Hurricane Matthew.

According to the newspaper, a 58-year-old woman Florida died of a heart attack after St. Lucie County suspended emergency services.

1.32pm BST

We expect an update from the director of the National Hurricane Center within 20 minutes, via Periscope.

This morning, Dr. Rick Knabb again warned Florida residents in Matthew’s path to leave if they still can.

Join @NHCDirector Dr. Rick Knabb live on Periscope at 8:50 a.m. EDT this morning for the latest on #Matthew https://t.co/DoS8b35IpM pic.twitter.com/9TZChcOWpi

1.18pm BST

In Hurricane Matthew’s wake is Martin County, Florida, immediately south of Port St. Lucie along the state’s Treasure Coast.

Officials there are just beginning to assess the damage wrought by Matthew. Again, this flooding and wind damage happened without the eye of the storm ever making landfall.

Our first look at #matthew damage: debris, flooded roads, erosion and downed power lines @ MacArthur Blvd. pic.twitter.com/HHbXRQvAmC

12.58pm BST

This video is a good reminder of why local officials want people who stayed through the hurricane to remain indoors, even after winds calm down.

Dramatic video shows power lines exploding in Merritt Island, Florida as Hurricane Matthew churns up the coast. https://t.co/944xgkHFtZ pic.twitter.com/WrFPk1EiVv

12.46pm BST

Florida Governor Rick Scott updated the nation on Hurricane Matthew’s path along Florida’s coast, Friday morning on CBS This Morning.

Scott said as of 7:15am ET the hurricane remained, “a little bit off our coast which is a blessing.”

12.27pm BST

Tampa expects to avoid the worst of the storm as Hurricane Matthew shifts eastward, the National Weather Service reports.

.@NWSTampaBay gave us an update. Due to Matthew shifting to east, wind should not be very significant @CityofTampa. Should be done by 11am. pic.twitter.com/GoKa9CnRuJ

12.15pm BST

As the east coast wakes up, Hurricane Matthew is moving north along the Florida coast, battering Cape Canaveral with wind speeds of up to 107mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Brevard County and Volusia County are also heavily affected, and Daytona Beach is seeing increasingly fierce conditions.

Curfews are in place in several coastal districts, including Seminola County, and local news channels are broadcasting footage of near-deserted interstate roads.

11.48am BST

The pleas for people to evacuate continue. Here’s the director of the National Hurricane Center:

If you have been told by local officials to evacuate and that there is still time to leave, go now! Your life could depend on it! #Matthew

“We have a ton of supplies: lots of food, lots of water, ice,” said Tracy Melhado, co-owner. “All kinds of activities for the kids. So we are well-equipped to be here for a little while if we have to — hopefully not.”

11.41am BST

Cape Canaveral is currently bearing the brunt of Hurricane Matthew:

Cape Canaveral, FL outer eyewall Hurricane #Matthew @TheWeatherNetUS @StormhunterTWN @georgekourounis pic.twitter.com/W2a4WgHEhD

11.39am BST

More than 1 million people have been ordered to leave their homes in Florida, and many have been hunkering down in shelters set up in school gyms and other public buildings. The Orlando Sentinel has been touring some of these shelters as the storm kicks in.

“The second and the third days are worse,” said David Vernaza, shelter co-manager for American Red Cross disaster services. “It’s no longer an adventure. They get antsy.”

More than 400 pets are in the Brevard County evacuation shelters, including dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs and lizards. #HurricaneMathew

11.33am BST

The 5am Fri prototype storm surge watch/warning area extends from Fla. to N. Carolina. #Matthew @NOAA @NHCDirector https://t.co/R5OOOwDjqL pic.twitter.com/qrndURs8bf

11.08am BST

Hurricane Matthew’s outer eyewall – the area where the storm is strongest – is “brushing” Cape Canaveral, the National Hurricane Center reports in its latest bulletin. A 100mph gust has been recorded there. And as daylight arrives the storm is expected to pick up force.

10.53am BST

Almost all flights in and out of Orlando today are cancelled and other Florida airports are facing severe disruption and cancellations, according to tracking site Flightaware.

10.45am BST

NBC meteorologist Alicia Roman has just tweeted this map of Hurricane Matthew’s current position:

#HurricaneMatthew - Category 3 just E of Melbourne, FL.
Winds: 120 mph
Gusts to 150
Moving NNW 13 mph@NBCChicago pic.twitter.com/Mt6LfqshTY

10.41am BST

Extreme Wind Warning for Port Canaveral and Cape Canaveral; take cover inside most interior room, stay away from doors/windows! #alert https://t.co/TqqHMxaHDT

10.22am BST

Winds are currently strongest in Brevard County, Volutia County and the Melbourne area, and local news channel WFTV Channel 9 reports 100,000 households are without power in Brevard County.

It appears Florida’s southern coast is likely to escape the worst of the damage: in the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane warning covering Jupiter Inlet to Boca Raton has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning. South of Boca Raton, a tropical storm warning has been cancelled.

10.12am BST

Fasten your seatbelts for stomach-churning footage from the cockpit of an NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft tracking the eye of Hurricane Matthew’s storm yesterday:

Very turbulent flight today into the eye of powerful Cat 4 #HurricaneMatthew on WP-3D Orion #NOAA43. Credit: CAPT Tim Gallagher/NOAA pic.twitter.com/8VJpKzs3mn

10.01am BST

Drone footage from Haiti shows the devastation Hurricane Matthew caused there. At least 300 people have been killed by the storm, which hit Haiti on Tuesday.

9.58am BST

Video shown on Florida channel WFTV Channel 9 (on Facebook Live here) shows shop awnings and other debris being whipped around in the wind in Melbourne, and electricity transformers exploding in Rockledge.

Meanwhile 66,000 homes are without power in Brevard County. “If you still have power in Brevard County, most likely it’s going to go out,” a presenter says.

9.42am BST

The Florida governor Rick Scott, who urged residents to evacuate their homes last night, says Hurricane Matthew is now very close to landfall.

The eyewall of Hurricane #Matthew is now within 5 miles of the Central Florida coast and extremely close to land. Stay aware.

9.22am BST

The Weather Channel reports that severe storm surges are expected, and they could be deadly.

Technically #HurricaneMatthew did weaken. But surge & winds are two separate things. Katrina was "only" a Category 3 storm at landfall.

9.05am BST

The National Hurricane Center’s 4am EDT update reports that Hurricane Matthew’s western eyewall

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