Hurricane Matthew Hits Florida 

Matthew Continues to Head Northwest Off the coast of Florida as a Category 3 Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful storm to threaten the Southeast coast in more than a decade, reports USA Today

Matthew continues to head northwest off the northeast coast of Florida, and as of 3 p.m. ET Friday, the Category 3 hurricane was located 35 miles east of St. Augustine, Fla., moving 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Matthew continued to pack sustained winds up to 115 mph, threatening devastating storm surges in a four-state area. At a mid-morning press conference, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the "worst effects are still likely to come," referring to a possible turn toward the coast and a likely storm surge in the Jacksonville area.

The hurricane is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches over the Atlantic coast of the United States from central Florida to eastern North Carolina, forecasters said. Some areas could see as much as 15 inches that could lead to flooding and flash flooding, even in inland areas. The most important threat comes from storm surges, which have been predicted to be as high as 12 feet. More than 800,000 in Florida were without power Friday. The number will be climbing rapidly as the storm moves closer to the coast and heads north. Up to 2.5 million Florida Power & Light customers could lose power, officials said.

The storm is expected to continue moving northwest Friday and turn north by Friday night or Saturday morning. In Georgia, more than 500,000 people fled the coastal areas for the interior and thousands sought refuge at shelters. Forecasters expect Matthew to stick close to 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.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made a blunt statement to residents: "This is the last time you will hear my voice asking you to evacuate," she said, calling out islands and cities by name. President Obama declared a state of emergency in North Carolina Friday, following similar declarations for Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center extended a hurricane warning to North Carolina, too. The center also said the storm is expected to weaken in the next 48 hours but will remain a hurricane until Sunday.

Watch this space for updates concerning the path of Matthew and how the storm is affecting AGRM member missions. And of course, be in prayer for those that have been or still may be in the path of the storm. 


Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video Hurricane Seen From GOES West via photopin (license)