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Hurricane Matthew brings dangerous wind to Florida, threatens serious storm surge through Georgia and South Carolina

The storm has already left a wake of devastation through the Caribbean.

Palm trees sway in high gusts of wind, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Vero Beach, FL. CREDIT: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Palm trees sway in high gusts of wind, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Vero Beach, FL. CREDIT: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Hurricane Matthew continues its march through the Atlantic, threatening the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia through the weekend. The storm has already inflicted serious damage throughout the Caribbean, leaving 842 dead in Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew moving northwest along the east coast of Florida, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. CREDIT: NOAA via AP
Hurricane Matthew moving northwest along the east coast of Florida, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. CREDIT: NOAA via AP

As of Friday afternoon, the eye-wall of the hurricane — which contains the most damaging winds and intense rainfall — was east-southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. The hurricane, which had been designated as a Category 4 storm Thursday, weakened slightly overnight to a Category 3 storm, but winds are still clocking in at roughly 120 miles per hour.

“This is still a 120-mile an hour storm,” Gov. Rick Scott (R) said during a press conference Friday morning. “The eye has not made direct landfall, but it still has time to make a direct hit. We are very concerned about storm surge, and the worst affects are likely to come.”

Although the storm’s path shifted slightly east overnight, Scott warned that Jacksonville could still suffer extreme rainfall and winds associated with the storm, as well as dangerous storm surge. The National Weather Service is forecasting potential for a seven to nine-foot storm surge in the Jacksonville area.

“We’re going to see more damage. On top of those winds, the storm surge is going to be significant — 10 feet, on top of waves,” Scott said.

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Daytona Beach, FL, was battered Friday afternoon with intense winds brought by the hurricane. A video posted to Twitter by Weather Channel reporter Alexandra Wilson showed parts of a hotel being ripped off by the wind.

Almost one million Floridians are without power as of Friday afternoon. Florida Power and Light has restored power to approximately 27 percent of customers without power, according to Scott.

Officials have reported one fatality, when, due to sustained high winds, emergency medical workers could not reach a woman suffering from cardiac arrest in St. Lucie County, Florida.

There are 145 shelters open across the state, with 22,000 Floridians currently staying in those shelters. On Thursday, President Obama declared a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Schools across most of the state are closed today, as is the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. More than 3,700 flights have been cancelled across several Florida airports through Sunday.

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Storm surge warnings have increased for both coastal Georgia and South Carolina, as Hurricane Matthew still has potential to make landfall in either state. The National Hurricane center is predicting a storm surge as high as nine feet for metropolitan Charleston. Models show the storm moving into coastal Georgia tonight and into coastal South Carolina by early Saturday morning.

ThinkProgress will update this story as more information becomes available throughout the day.