The eye of Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007, hit Cuba Wednesday morning as the major tropical cyclone advanced toward the Bahamas.
The Washington Post reports that the extent of the destruction in Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, is still unknown after Matthew struck with 145 mph winds. International aid teams are struggling to reach areas cut off by mud slides and washed-out bridges.
Having calmed somewhat since to a still-major 115 mph Category-3 hurricane, Matthew’s path toward the US has grown clearer. It’s projected to be right off the coast of Florida by Thursday evening.
Hurricane warnings are in effect across much of the eastern coast of Florida, with hurricane watches in the north and tropical storm watches in the south. Florida has not been hit by a hurricane since Wilma in 2005.
The NOAA still projects Matthew will be a “major” hurricane with winds over 110 mph when it hits Florida.
Projecting more than three days into the future is difficult with hurricanes, but a major strike up the US East Coast has grown less likely in the last 24 hours. The Carolinas could still face hurricane-force winds, but it appears likely that Matthew will turn out to sea before reaching Virginia or the Northeast.