Tags: hurricane matthew | eyewall | cape canaveral

5 am: Hurricane Matthew's Eyewall Nearing Cape Canaveral

Image: 5 am: Hurricane Matthew's Eyewall Nearing Cape Canaveral

Friday, 07 Oct 2016 05:14 AM

As of 5 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Matthew's western eyewall was approaching Cape Canaveral in Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center. The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore, but Matthew's wrath promised a days-long pounding of more than 500 miles of coastline.

The Hurricane Center said sustained winds of 46 mph and a gust of 70 mph were reported in Melbourne early Friday, reported The Associated Press.

The hurricane had been a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, but weakened slightly early Friday to a Category 3.

Forecasters said it could dump up to 15 inches of rain in some spots and cause a storm surge of 9 feet or more. They said the major threat would not be the winds — which newer buildings can withstand — but the massive surge of seawater that could wash over coastal communities along a 500-mile stretch from South Florida to Charleston, South Carolina.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged ahead. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

"This storm's a monster," Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned as Matthew started lashing the state. "I'm going to pray for everybody's safety."

The number of homes and businesses without power jumped by the hour as the storm edged closer to the coast. More than 240,000 were in the dark by early Friday.

The winds picked up along Vero Beach, midway between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, stripping away palm fronds, ripping awnings and blowing sand that stung the face. Waves crashed on the beach, and rain came in short bursts.

As it moved north Thursday evening, Matthew stayed about 100 miles or more off South Florida, sparing the 4.4 million people in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from its most punishing effects.

After Florida, forecasters said Matthew would probably hug the coast of Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend before veering out to sea — perhaps even looping back toward Florida in the middle of next week as a tropical storm.

Millions of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to evacuate their homes, and interstate highways were turned into one-way routes to speed the exodus. Florida alone accounted for about 1.5 million of those told to clear out.

"The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida," the governor warned.

Thousands of people hunkered down in schools converted to shelters, and inland hotels in places such as Charlotte, North Carolina, reported brisk business.

At the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, NASA no longer has to worry about rolling space shuttles back from the launch pad to the hangar because of hurricanes, since the shuttle fleet is now retired. But the spaceflight company SpaceX was concerned about the storm's effect on its leased seaside pad.

The last Category 3 storm or higher to hit the U.S. was Wilma in October 2005. It sliced across Florida with 120 mph winds, killing five people and causing an estimated $21 billion in damage.

The coordinator for Haiti's Interior Ministry in the area hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew said the confirmed death toll in that southwestern zone was 283. Emmanuel Pierre told The Associated Press late Thursday that he expects the toll to rise as authorities reach remote places that were left isolated by the storm.

Bodies have started to appear as waters recede in some areas two days after Matthew smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes.

In the Bahamas, authorities reported many downed trees and power lines but no immediate deaths.

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As of 5 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Matthew's western eyewall was approaching Cape Canaveral, according to the National Hurricane Center. The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore of Florida, but Matthew's wrath promised a days-long pounding of more than 500 miles of coastline.
hurricane matthew, eyewall, cape canaveral
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2016-14-07
Friday, 07 Oct 2016 05:14 AM
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