Hurricane Matthew picked up both strength and speed as the deadly storm prepares to strike the United States.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has issued a blunt warning to 1.5 million residents and tourists along the coast to get out now: “This storm will kill you.”
The category 4 hurricane is expected to reach landfall or near-landfall Thursday night, between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Winds of up to 145 mph are expected and the impact of the storm is predicted to be catastrophic.
Gov. Scott activated 2,500 members of the National Guard to assist with the storm and warned Floridians that “millions will lose power, possibly for a long period of time.”
NBC News reports:
If it makes landfall, Matthew would be the first major hurricane — Category 3 or higher — to hit the U.S. mainland since Wilma in 2005. And it would be the first to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane King, which killed seven people and destroyed 21,000 homes as it came ashore in Miami in 1950.
Tropical storm systems typically diminish as they interact with land, but Matthew has stubbornly refused to weaken significantly — not when it slammed first into Haiti, where at least 19 people were killed, and only slightly when it passed over a sparsely populated area of Cuba.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 6, 2016
“Strengthening is expected during the next 24-36 hours,” said the National Hurricane Center.
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina is also taking no chances. Gov. Haley urged all South Carolina residents to get at least 100 miles from the shore, reminding residents who’ve decided to stay that they could be putting the lives of law enforcement and emergency responders in danger, not just their own.
Gov. Nikki Haley reversed lanes of Interstate 26 so that all lanes of traffic were headed west and away from South Carolina’s shore, marking the first time the lanes have been reversed to accommodate outbound traffic.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in North Carolina, including those in the immediate Piedmont Triad area.
The National Hurricane Center called Matthew “extremely dangerous,” and conditions look favorable for it to maintain its strength, said Michael Lowry, a hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel.
You can get live updates about Hurricane Matthew here.