Hurricane Matthew looks like it may become the first major hurricane to directly hit the United States in more than 10 years. The powerful storm has killed 339 people in Haiti, according to updated figures from local officials Thursday night. As Matthew spiraled north through the Caribbean toward the southeastern U.S. coastline, it grew into even more of a monster.
At the New York Times there's a superb Q&A on Hurricane Matthew with veteran reporter John Schwartz, who covered Katrina extensively for the paper, and grew up in Galveston, TX where he experienced his first hurricane at age 4.
The storm hit Haiti on Tuesday. The death toll there is still rising. Reuters:
Hurricane Matthew has killed at least 283 people in Haiti, including dozens in one coastal town that authorities and rescue workers were only beginning to reach days after the powerful storm, officials said on Thursday.
The number was given by a meeting of emergency workers including representatives from the government, the United Nations and international aid agencies, which Reuters attended. Many victims were killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers when Matthew hit with 145-mph (230-kph) winds on Tuesday.
There are fears of 11-foot storm surges in Florida Thursday night, where the storm is now bearing down.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Matthew is carrying winds of up to 140 mph (220 kph). The storm hit the northwestern Bahamas before aiming toward Florida's Atlantic coast.
The storm could damage important aerospace, NASA, and U.S. military sites including Kennedy Space Center, in the region known as the "Space Coast."
Jeff Masters of Weather Underground says Matthew's wind threat is gravely serious at Cape Canaveral, which sticks out into the Atlantic off the coast of central Florida.
From Reuters, on the threat to the U.S. and the damage already done in Haiti:
Some 283 people were killed in Haiti, local officials said, and thousands were displaced after the storm flattened homes, uprooted trees and inundated neighborhoods earlier in the week. Four people were killed in the Dominican Republic, which neighbors Haiti.
Damage and potential casualties in the Bahamas were still unclear as the storm passed near the capital, Nassau, on Thursday and then out over the western end of Grand Bahama Island.
It was too soon to predict where Matthew might do the most of its damage in the United States, but the NHC's hurricane warning extended up the Atlantic coast from southern Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina. More than 12 million people in the United States were under hurricane watches and warnings, according to the Weather Channel.
The last major hurricane, classified as a storm bearing sustained winds of more than 110 mph (177 kph), to make landfall on U.S. shores was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.