The Latest: Hurricane conditions expected in next few hours

MIAMI (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

Forecasters say hurricane conditions are expected to reach the Florida warning area in the next few hours.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Matthew still has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph) but is forecast to weaken to a Category 3 in the next two days, when it moves north into Georgia and South Carolina.

President Barack Obama on Thursday night declared a state of emergency for Georgia. He had already issued states of emergency for Florida and South Carolina.

Matthew is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Florida Power and Light reports that about 95,000 customers – about 42,000 in Palm Beach County alone – are already without electricity.


9:30 p.m.

Officials say winds are picking up and thousands are without power in Florida as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

The National Hurricane Center says the eye of Matthew is northwest of Grand Bahama Island, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida, and a wind gust of 50 mph (80 kph) has been recorded at Palm Beach International Airport.

Florida Power and Light says more than 30,000 customers – about 24,000 in Palm Beach County alone – are already without electricity.

Matthew is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (210 kph). It is moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).


9:10 p.m.

The coordinator for Haiti’s Interior Ministry in the area hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew says the confirmed death toll in that southwestern zone is now 283.

Emmanuel Pierre told The Associated Press late Thursday that he expects the toll to rise as authorities reach remote places that were left isolated by the storm.

The overall death toll in Haiti is not clear. Shortly before Pierre spoke, the headquarters for Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency had put the number of confirmed deaths for the whole country at 122.

Bodies have started to appear as waters recede in some areas two days after Matthew smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes.


8:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott maintains that state and local officials are prepared for Hurricane Matthew, even as he called the storm bearing down on the state a “monster.”

“Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts,” Scott says.

Scott says people in the northeast part of the state still have time to evacuate and residents could still choose to go to a shelter.

Authorities have told roughly 1.5 million people across the state to evacuate. The mass exodus led to crammed highways, full hotels and the need to open dozens of hurricane shelters. The looming storm also has led to gas shortages, though Scott said the state still has five days’ worth of fuel supplies.

Officials are expecting massive power outages across the region once Hurricane Matthew hits full-force.

Although the state has food and water supplies ready for after the storm, Scott cautioned that people need to be able to take care of themselves for the first three days.


8:10 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says the center of Hurricane Matthew is over the western end of the Grand Bahama Island and tropical storm conditions are lashing the east coast of Florida.

At 8 p.m. EDT, the storm had weakened slightly and had 130 mph (210 kph) sustained winds, down from 140 mph (225 kph). Matthew is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The storm left more than 100 dead in its wake across the Caribbean, and 2 million people across the Southeast have been warned to flee inland.

It’s the most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade.


7:45 p.m.

Hurricane Matthew prompted two college football postponements, and has the NFL plotting just-in-case scenarios for games scheduled in Tampa and Miami this weekend.

A pair of college games set to be played Saturday – LSU at No. 18 Florida, as well as Charlotte at Florida Atlantic – were postponed.

Saturday night’s game that has No. 23 Florida State visiting No. 10 Miami remains on as scheduled, though officials remain somewhat cautious. The fate of Saturday’s Georgia at South Carolina football game also remained unclear.

A major issue with games in Florida this weekend isn’t the weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday, because those days look to be generally fine around the state. It’s whether police, first responders and other key personnel needed at football games that draw massive crowds will be deployed to assist in areas that will take the brunt of Matthew’s wrath.


7:30 p.m.

The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency says authorities have rescued at least 30 people who were trapped in their homes by floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew on the island of New Providence.

There has been extensive flooding across the island but no reports of any deaths or injuries. The island includes the capital, Nassau.

New Providence was drenched by Hurricane Matthew throughout Thursday. Forecasters predicted up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain and storm surge of around 15 feet (5 meters) over normal tide across the most populous island in the Bahamas.

Agency spokeswoman Lindsay Thompson said the government was still conducting a full assessment of damages across the island chain east of Florida and were waiting until the storm was clear of Grand Bahama before declaring the all clear for the country.


From Associated Press writer Ben Fox in Miami

6:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in South Carolina and has ordered federal aid to help respond to Hurricane Matthew.

Earlier Thursday, Obama made the declaration for Florida. Obama’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts to protect lives, property and alleviate the suffering caused by the hurricane.

Emergency declarations are designed to help provide emergency services to protect lives and property, and to lessen the threat of a catastrophe.


6 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama has spoken by telephone with each of the governors in states bracing for Hurricane Matthew.

The most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade is moving toward Florida with winds of 140 mph.

The White House says Obama committed to providing the necessary federal resources to help the states respond to the hurricane.

The calls were with Govs. Nathan Deal of Georgia, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Pat McCrory of North Carolina and Rick Scott of Florida. All are Republicans.

The White House says people in the path of the hurricane need to take the storm seriously and says Obama has “directed his team to be as proactive as possible” in its response.


NASA is bracing for its first hurricane without space shuttles to worry about. Now it’s SpaceX and Boeing fretting about hurricane-force wind and equally devastating storm surges.

Before the shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011, rollbacks from the launch pads were commonplace during hurricane season at Kennedy Space Center. Now both pads are empty, at least for the time being.

NASA is modifying Launch Complex 39B for its still-in-development Space Launch System mega-rockets intended for outer-space travel. SpaceX is leasing the other pad, 39A, from where Apollo astronauts departed for the moon and multiple shuttle flights began.

SpaceX was counting on this historic pad to get its rockets flying again, possibly in November, once modifications were complete. The SpaceX pad at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was damaged Sept. 1 when a Falcon rocket exploded during prelaunch testing.


5:30 p.m.

Police are patrolling St. Augustine, Florida, neighborhoods, announcing through a bullhorn that the area is in a mandatory evacuation zone as Hurricane Matthew approaches the state.

Dana Harrison, who lives on a barrier island across from Anastasia State Park, said she planned to wait out the storm with an out-of-town friend and her cat.

The 57-year-old Harrison says she used to live in St. Thomas and survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989, though the storm destroyed her house. She said she feels more secure in her current home.

About 1.5 million people in Florida have been told to flee inland as the dangerous and life-threatening Category 4 storm makes it way toward the state.


5 p.m.

Officials in the Florida Keys say the island chain got lucky and did not receive major damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said any schools, libraries, parks and government offices that had closed would be reopened on Friday.

All roads and bridges in the islands are open. The Key West and Marathon airports will open Friday, though flights may be delayed or canceled due to the hurricane’s effects elsewhere.

Coastal waters throughout the Keys were expected to rise up to 2 feet above ground, flooding some neighborhood roads but not the narrow Overseas Highway that links the islands with Florida’s peninsula.


4:15 p.m.

South Carolina officials are extending the deadline to register to vote in this fall’s elections due to Hurricane Matthew.

The South Carolina Election Commission said Thursday that applications postmarked by Tuesday, October 11 will be accepted.

South Carolina’s deadline to register to vote by mail had been set for Saturday, October 8. Post offices are closed Monday due to the Columbus Day federal holiday, and that’s another reason officials say they’re moving the deadline.

Online, email or fax applications are due by midnight, October 9. Due to Hurricane Matthew, some counter voter registration offices are closed through Saturday.


4 p.m.

Turns out this wasn’t the best week to plan a cruise – at least for those who signed up to float from Baltimore to the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos on the Carnival Cruise line’s Carnival Pride.

A total of 1,600 passengers bought tickets for a seven-day trip to Freeport and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and the island of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. The ship was rerouted at the last minute before it set sail Sunday, and instead of going to the Caribbean, headed north to New York.

After it left the Big Apple, the ship was supposed to make a stop in Saint John, New Brunswick, before heading south back to Baltimore. But because of heavy weather conditions, it was forced to enter the Chesapeake Bay. It is now scheduled to arrive back in Baltimore next Sunday.

Annette McKenny Neufeld of Ontario, Canada, is one of the disappointed passengers.

Neufeld had been dreaming about a tropical beach vacation, but after several days aboard the rerouted ship, she says the only thing she wants “is to get off and head home.”

Neufeld shared her thoughts with The Associated Press through Facebook Messenger on Thursday, while still 478 nautical miles from Baltimore’s harbor.


2:45 p.m.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says that although the city that draws millions of tourists a year is known widely for its hospitality, he wants everyone to leave town as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

City officials warn that the heavy rains and storm surge from Matthew could combine to cause flooding worse than the floods the city saw a year ago.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Tecklenburg asked residents to pack up what they need, secure their property and get out of town.

City officials say that the first rains from the storm are expected to move in late Friday and conditions will deteriorate into Saturday.

Police Chief Greg Mullen warns that at the height of the storm, police and emergency personnel will be pulled off the streets and there won’t be the usual rapid response to 911 calls.


2:15 p.m.

The National Weather Service is posting flash-flood watches for the entire South Carolina coast and warning that the combination of storm surge and rains from Hurricane Matthew could cause worse flooding in downtown Charleston than the October storm of a year ago.

During the October 2015 flooding, the city was closed for several days.

Forecasters are posting flash-flood watches on the coast from Friday morning through Saturday night.

An advisory warns that 8 to 14 inches of rain are expected with locally higher amounts. It said residents should be prepared for the possibility of widespread street flooding and property damage on the Charleston peninsula.

Forecasters say the storm could bring severe flooding even though the center of Matthew is expected to stay offshore.


1:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in the state of Florida and has ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts to Hurricane Matthew.

Obama’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts to alleviate the suffering caused by the hurricane. The directive applies to more than two dozen counties in Florida.

Emergency declarations are designed to help provide emergency services to protect lives and property, and to lessen the threat of a catastrophe.


1:45 p.m.

Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights as Hurricane Matthew pelts the Florida coast with high winds and heavy rain.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and farther north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.

Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

FlightAware said airlines had already canceled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday. Delta Air Lines said cancellations were likely to spread to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.

Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.


1:30 p.m.

With dangerous Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida’s coastline, officials at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld say they’ll be shutting down until the storm passes.

Disney officials said on the company’s website Thursday afternoon that theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, the miniature golf course and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex would close at 5 p.m. The theme park will remain closed through Friday.

Alyson Lundell is director of public relations for Universal Orlando. She said in a statement that Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Citywalk would close at 5 p.m. and remain closed on Friday.

Earlier Thursday, SeaWorld announced on its website that the park would close at 2 p.m. and remain closed on Friday.


1 p.m.

The death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew has risen to at least 108.

Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph announced the figure in the capital on Thursday as authorities and aid workers work to gauge the extent of the deaths and damage in the impoverished country.

Details on the deaths were not immediate available.

Previously, officials said there had been at least 23 deaths from the storm in Haiti. There were also four people killed in the neighboring Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Hurricane Matthew roared across the tip of the peninsula on Tuesday but authorities have struggled to reach people in the most remote areas including around the town of Jeremie and throughout the Grande Anse area.


12:30 p.m.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are warning that large waves pushed by Hurricane Matthew could threaten lives and property hours before the Category 4 storm’s eye nears the shore.

Jamie Rhome is leader of the storm surge team at the hurricane center in Miami. Rhome says levels were up to a foot higher than normal as far north as Jacksonville on Thursday as a strengthening Matthew tore through the Bahamas toward Florida.

Rhome said parts of Florida, such as the Cape Canaveral area or communities along the St. Johns River, could see waters rise up to 9 feet above ground – a level well overhead for most adults.

Rhome says such levels are life-threatening because they are accompanied by “waves and currents and floating debris.”

The hurricane center has issued storm surge watches and warnings for life-threatening flooding from Boca Raton in South Florida all the way up the coast north of Charleston, South Carolina.


12:30 p.m.

Forecasters are warning that Hurricane Matthew could inundate the coast of South Carolina just a year after what was called a 1,000-year flood closed Charleston for several days.

A forecast map issued by the National Weather Service shows that as much as 14 inches of rain could fall in the Charleston and Georgetown areas between Thursday night and Sunday night as the hurricane passes at sea.

It was just a year ago that as much as 2 feet of rain fell in some areas of South Carolina. Streets in Charleston were flooded so badly that police kept people from coming downtown to the peninsula for several days.

A section of Interstate 95 near Orangeburg was also closed for a time. The Matthew forecast predicts between 5 and 8 inches of rain could fall in that area before the weekend is over.


11:45 a.m.

The White House is imploring Americans in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew to follow any evacuation orders given.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the Category 4 storm’s impact is likely to be “quite significant.” He says the White House is strongly encouraging people to heed the warnings and instructions given by local officials.

Earnest is also urging people to stay abreast of the latest weather forecasts. He said Thursday was a “pivotal day” for preparations, as some parts of the Florida coast were expected to experience tropical storm conditions as early as the afternoon.

President Barack Obama received his latest update about hurricane preparations on Thursday morning.


11:30 a.m.

Gov. Rick Scott is warning Florida residents living in evacuation zones to “get out.”

Scott was in Stuart on Thursday afternoon to address concerns as powerful Hurricane Matthews barreled toward Florida.

He said anyone living in low-lying areas or on barrier islands should “evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.” He says tolls have been lifted on all roadways to help make evacuations easier. Scott says more than 1.5 million people are living in evacuation zones.

Remarking that “this is game day,” Scott warned people to stay off beaches up and down Florida’s Atlantic coastline Thursday, adding that “no one needs to be on the beach doing anything.”

The governor has activated another 1,000 National Guard members, bringing the total to 2,500. He says they’ll be available to help with evacuations and getting people to shelters.


11:30 a.m.

Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered mandatory evacuations along the entire Georgia coast as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

Deal said Thursday that everyone east of Interstate 95 should flee Georgia’s six coastal counties – Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden. Those counties have a combined population of more than 522,000 people.

The governor had asked coastal residents to evacuate on a voluntary basis Wednesday. He called for mandatory evacuations as the National Hurricane Center placed all 100 miles of coastal Georgia under a hurricane warning Thursday.

Officials say powerful winds and heavy rains from Matthew could begin to arrive in coastal Georgia late Thursday. The storm is forecast to pass Saturday.

The Georgia coast hasn’t seen a hurricane evacuation since a near-miss with Hurricane Floyd in 1999.


11 a.m.

Hurricane Matthew has strengthened to a catastrophic Category 4 storm as it barrels toward the heavily populated coast of Florida.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm’s maximum sustained winds had strengthened to 140 mph as of late Thursday morning and were expected to maintain their strength as the storm approaches the Florida coast.

Hurricane conditions were also still affecting the Bahamas. The storm was expected to start affecting Florida by early afternoon Thursday.


10 a.m.

Gov. Nikki Haley says parts of two counties along South Carolina’s northern coast are being evacuated ahead of Hurricane Matthew.

Haley told reporters Thursday morning evacuation orders go into effect at noon Thursday for parts of Horry and Georgetown counties.

Haley warned anyone in an evacuation zone not to take the orders lightly. She says surge from the storm could be as high as 8 feet and affect not only the coast but also areas farther inland.

So far, Haley says 175,000 people have evacuated from the coast. On Wednesday, the state reversed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia, allowing more motorists to move inland at once.

Forecasters say they expect Matthew to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Florida, turning north and passing just off the South Carolina coast late Friday or early Saturday.


9:45 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says the latest predictions show that his state will avoid a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew.

But emergency workers are continuing to prepare for high winds, rain and storm surge.

McCrory says North Carolina cities like Jacksonville and Morehead City could still see wind gusts of up to 60 mph beginning Saturday. Widespread power outages are possible. There could be a foot of rain in some areas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the hurricane is strengthening and called it dangerous and life-threatening. About 1.5 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate.


9:05 a.m.

A motorist shot during an altercation with South Carolina deputies over a Hurricane Matthew evacuation route has died.

Berkeley County Chief Deputy Coroner George Oliver says 35-year-old Lucas M. Felkel of Moncks Corner died shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Sheriff Duane Lewis says it happened about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Moncks Corner when a motorist came to a checkpoint, knocked down some traffic cones and sped off.

The sheriff says when deputies finally caught up with the driver a few miles away he pointed a gun at deputies and started shooting. The sheriff says the deputies shot back, wounding the man who was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

No deputies were wounded, but the sheriff says that four deputies have been placed on administrative leave.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating. The coroner says an autopsy is scheduled.


9 a.m.

Officials at Florida’s major airports are monitoring conditions as Hurricane Matthew bears down on Florida.

On its website, Fort Lauderdale International Airport announced plans to close at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Officials advised travelers to check with individual airlines about flight plans.

In Miami, officials at Miami International Airport will continue monitoring the storm and warned of possible flight cancelations. On its website, officials noted that generally “airports don’t’ operate in sustained crosswinds that exceed 35 mph.”

On Twitter, Miami airport officials said 341 arrivals and 305 departures had been canceled by midmorning Thursday, “which is about 90% of our daily flight schedule.” Officials also tweeted that “it’s expected by noon most flights will stop flying,” but the airport “technically remains ‘open’ and ready for when flights resume.”

The Palm Beach International Airport website doesn’t say when flights will be suspended, but asked travelers to stay away, noting that the airport is not intended for use as a shelter.

In Orlando airport officials are preparing for hurricane conditions. In a note on its website, officials at Orlando International Airport say they plan to being “reducing flights into Orlando and altering schedules starting Thursday, lasting through Friday.” They, too, advise travelers to get in contact with individual airlines for flight plans.

The Jacksonville International Airport website also advises travelers to check flight status with the airlines before heading to the airport.


8:30 a.m.

City officials in Charleston, South Carolina, which weathered Category 4 Hurricane Hugo almost 30 years ago, say the city has run out of sandbags after distributing more than for any other storm.

The city has distributed more than 15,000 sandbags as residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew. There were long lines of motorists waiting to get sandbags at one distribution point on the city’s north side late Wednesday.

Charleston is prone to flooding even in summer thunderstorms and if people need to sandbags now, they will have to get them at hardware or home stores.

The upscale community of Kiawah Island southwest of Charleston plans to close at noon Thursday when officials barricade the entrance to the gated community. Fire and emergency equipment will be moved to the mainland.


8 a.m.

Forecasters say the first outer rain bands from Hurricane Matthew already have begun to approach Florida as the big storm crosses the Bahamas toward the state.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew is still a Category 3 hurricane as of 8 a.m. Thursday, packing top sustained winds up to 125 mph. It’s still expected to become an even more powerful Category 4 storm in coming hours as it approaches Florida’s east coast starting Thursday night.

The storm is centered about 215 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida and moving northwest toward the state at 12 mph.


7:45 a.m.

Authorities say a motorist in South Carolina was shot and wounded by deputies during an altercation over a Hurricane Matthew evacuation route.

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis tells local news outlets it happened about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Moncks Corner when a motorist came to a check point, knocked down some traffic cones and sped off.

The sheriff says when deputies finally caught up with the driver a few miles away he pointed a gun at deputies and started shooting. The sheriff says the deputies shot back, wounding the man who was taken to the hospital. His name and condition were not immediately released.

No deputies were wounded, but the sheriff says that four deputies have been placed on administrative leave.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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