Hurricane Matthew is expected to impact North Carolina late Saturday to early Sunday, but the latest models have slightly shifted southeast off the coast.
As of 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, Matthew, a Category 3 storm, had sustained winds of 125 mph.
Models show Matthew is expected to strengthen to Category 4 as it heads into warm Bahamian waters within the next 24 hours, before exiting the Bahamas Thursday night. The storm is expected to continue its track north and head toward Florida, making landfall on Friday. The storm is then expected to impact the North Carolina shore late Saturday and Early Sunday.
Bahama’s prime minister, Perry Christie, told Bahamians to prepare for a “worst case scenario’’ as the hurricane is expected to assault every island in the region. All airports were closed Wednesday. New Providence, the country’s most populated island, is predicted to get a direct hit, he said.
On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in North Carolina, including those in the immediate Piedmont Triad area.
Hurricane Matthew pounded western Haiti and eastern Cuba Tuesday, packing powerful winds and heavy rain.
On Tuesday evening Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke Island.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday afternoon that all coastal communities are being evacuated at least 100 miles inland Wednesday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency warning residents there could be "massive destruction" if Matthew directly impacts Florida. He urged everyone to start preparing by stocking up on water and food, and by charging cell phones.
The state of emergency area in North Carolina is Alamance, Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Sampson, Scotland, Stokes, Surry, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.