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Hurricane Matthew whips Central Florida

Strong winds cause damage across region

ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane Matthew's howling wind and driving rain pummeled Central Florida on Friday.

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Chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells provided an 11 p.m. update to the storm, saying Hurricane Matthew was rolling toward the Georgia state line, along with South Carolina.

The hurricane remains large. It still hasn’t officially made landfall, Sorrells added. As of 11 p.m. Friday, Hurricane Matthew packed wind speeds of 105 mph, meaning it has slowed down throughout the day. It’s currently moving north at 12 mph. Sorrells said he expects it to make landfall by 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday.  Many people in South Carolina were told to evacuate from their homes.

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There were reports of multiple oceanfront structures with roof damage at Flagler Beach, and A1A South being compromised in multiple locations, including near S 18th  and S 16th. The end of the pier at Flagler Beach is reportedly missing, and it’s unknown how extensive damage is for the rest of the pier. 

The center of Matthew will be moving near or over the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.

"Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane until it
begins to move away from the United States on Sunday," the NWS said.

Port Canaveral and Cape Canaveral had an extreme wind warning, with gusts up to 115 mph as the outer eye wall of Matthew approached Friday morning. The hurricane warning from Sebastian Inlet to Cocoa Beach has been changed to a tropical storm warning.

NASA reported what appeared to be mostly minor damage at Kennedy Space Center. An office building suffered some roof damage, and parked cars had damage, as well. NASA spokesman George Diller, part of the 116-person ride out crew, said there have been some spotty power outages on site, and loss of air conditioning and water pressure in places.

Damage was also reported in Lake County, where a large tree fell onto a home in Umatilla. It's not know if anyone was injured.

Matthew weakened slightly Friday morning to a Category 3 storm near Brevard County. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it's expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves closer to Florida's coast. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

Flood warnings were issued in Seminole, north Brevard County and Volusia counties.

 

More than 1 million people were without power statewide, including 300,000 in Central Florida, almost half of which were in Brevard County.

News 6 reporter Mark Lehman watched a transformer explode in the strong winds of Hurricane Matthew in Cocoa Beach.

Power outages continued to fluctuate throughout Volusia County, and street signs were reported to be down as wind gusts ripped through the area.

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

Matthew could become the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in October 2005 if it maintains at least Category 3 status with winds of 110 mph or more.

Current forecasts show Matthew -- with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph -- could bring heavy rain, powerful winds, storm surge and other problems to the U.S. coast from Florida to the Carolinas in the coming days. Forecasters warn it has the potential to be incredibly destructive.

Below is a look at some other destructive hurricanes in U.S. history:

  • In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left 1,800 people dead and was the costliest storm in U.S. history with damage estimated at $108 billion. It was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall over Louisiana.
  • In 2004, Hurricane Charley hit Florida and then moved onto South and North Carolina. The Category 4 storm killed at least 21 people and left thousands homeless. The total U.S. damage was estimated to be near $15 billion.
  • In 1992, Category 4 Hurricane Andrew left an estimated 250,000 homeless and caused more than $20 billion in damage in the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana. Fifty-five people were killed.
  • In 1938, roughly 700 people died in the Great New England Hurricane. It raked the region as a Category 3 storm and wiped out railroad tracks, utilities, homes, crops and the fishing industry, according to the National Weather Service.
  • In 1928, the Great Okeechobee Hurricane struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, leaving more than 2,500 dead. Lake Okeechobee overflowed, causing disastrous flooding that inundated several communities.
  • In 1900, a hurricane made landfall in Galveston, Texas, with winds estimated to be at least 130 miles per hour and a storm surge of a whopping 15 feet. Some 8,000 people died, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says damage estimates exceeded $20 million at the time -- roughly $700 million in today's dollars.

Return visit

In what might eventually be more a psychological blow than a meteorological one, there's a decent chance that Hurricane Matthew could loop back full circle for a second, unwelcome visit to South Florida next week, meteorologists say.

If so, what arrives Tuesday would just be a weakened remnant of the monster storm that's about to rake the Florida and Georgia coasts. It's more akin to rubbing salt in the Sunshine State's wounds than inflicting further damage, meteorologists say. It would be unusual, but not unprecedented.

It is still a long way out, but some computer models show that after raking the lower southeast coast, Matthew will turn east into in the Atlantic and then back down south again. This many days out, any model forecast is subject to major changes and shouldn't be relied upon, meteorologists caution. Still, the National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast shows a now-tropical storm Matthew making three quarters of the loop by Tuesday morning.

One of the two major computer models that meteorologists use on — the American GFS model — has Matthew doing a full circle and crossing into South Florida sometime Tuesday. The other one, the European model, doesn't quite complete the circle, says Jeff Masters, a former federal hurricane hunter meteorologist and meteorology director of Weather Underground.

Masters puts the odds of a full loop-de-loop at 50-50, but it is getting more probable.

Watch News 6 for more on this story.


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