Thousands of Americans are heading inland to escape from Hurricane Matthew, as it moves across the Caribbean Sea toward the East Coast of the United States.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ordered the evacuations of low-lying Charleston and Beaufort starting at 3 p.m., but she called on residents of Georgetown and Horry County to not move until Thursday.
“What we’re trying to do is actually because the storm changed, we are changing with the storm,” Haley said, according to NBC News. “Beaufort and Charleston definitely need to go ahead and plan on evacuating at 3, but we saw that because the storm had slowed down, we can move that evacuation for Georgetown and Horry to tomorrow morning.”
Westbound traffic on Interstate 26 in South Carolina was slammed with traffic, filled with people who are heading away from the coast.
Details on the Storm’s Path
Southeastern Florida, namely the West Palm Beach area, will be hit by Matthew on Thursday afternoon by intense winds. Melbourne and possibly Daytona Beach might begin to be hard hit by rain and wind gusts by Friday morning.
Charleston, South Carolina, and other coastal sections of the state will begin to see the effects of the storm on Saturday morning. It will be off the coast of Myrtle Beach by Saturday afternoon.
Before it makes landfall in the United States, Matthew will hit the island chain through Thursday morning. Northwest Bahamas, including Freeport and Nassau, will be hit late Wednesday through Friday morning.
The National Hurricane Center highlighted the uncertainty of the storm’s path or how close the currently-Category 3 storm will get to the coast.
“When a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do from Florida through South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to specify impacts at any one location. For example, only a small deviation of the track to the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of a major hurricane onshore within the hurricane warning area in Florida. However, a small deviation to the right could keep the hurricane-force winds offshore,” it said.
Parts of both Carolinas, parts of Georgia, and Florida have declared states of emergency for the storm. Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for the entire east coast of Florida.
“Matthew is a serious threat to Florida’s east coast, even without a direct landfall,” meteorologist Mark Bove of Munich Re told USA Today. “Residents should make preparations ASAP.”
The hurricane center said that the threat for areas north of the Carolinas has been diminished. That includes the northeastern U.S.