ATLANTA - Hurricane Matthew remains a Category 4 storm as it moves across the Bahamas and eventually to the Florida coast.
Wind speeds are topping about 140 mph, with gusts of 165 mph.
The storm is expected to make landfall late Friday morning around the Cape Canaveral area of Florida. It will then continue up the coast of Florida throughout most of the day.
A hurricane warning now extends as far north as Charleston, South Carolina, down to Miami, Florida.
A tropical storm watch and warning has also been issued for many of the counties in southeast Georgia that aren’t immediately on the coast.
The tropical storm warning means winds could reach 39-73 mph.
- Gov. Nathan Deal issued a mandatory evacuation for 6 coastal counties
- Interstate 16 eastbound closed in Georgia ahead of approaching storm
- Hurricane Matthew upgraded to Category 4
- Georgia coastal counties could see impacts as soon as Friday, but metro Atlanta in the clear for now
The areas under the hurricane warning will see winds in excess of 74 mph.
The latest track puts the storm about 15 miles off of the Georgia coast, putting it in the margin of error of seeing actual landfall by the storm.
The swells from the storm could reach 20-25 feet during the worst of the storm, causing beach erosion and coastal flooding.
Gov. Nathan Deal issued a mandatory evacuation east of Interstate 95 for six coastal counties as Hurricane Matthews pounded the Bahamas.
"This can be a dangerous storm. It can inflict the loss of life if people are not cautious," Deal said. "We stand ready to help but people have to help themselves first."
The six coastal counties include: Bryan, Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden.
The updated forecast track released at 5 p.m. Thursday brings Hurricane Matthew a little nearer to the Georgia coast, according to Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz. He says the storm will be about 15 to 20 miles off the coast.
A voluntary evacuation request, issued yesterday, remains in effect for residents west of I-95 in those counties.
“The National Hurricane Center predicts Hurricane Matthew will intensify as it moves from the Bahamas up the Florida Coast,” said Deal. “As a result, I am now ordering a mandatory evacuation for areas east of Interstate-95. I also encourage the voluntary evacuation of residents in low-lying, coastal areas west of I-95. Shelters are opening now in these areas. To assist Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA) Director Jim Butterworth in coordinating and implementing traffic flow preparations, I’ve activated 45 members of the Georgia National Guard. They will assist state and local public safety and transportation officials. I urge Georgians in the affected areas to remain calm, be prepared and make informed, responsible decisions as we continue to monitor Hurricane Matthew’s path."
Georgia has been preparing all week for possible impacts of the dangerous hurricane.
"We are being cautious but we don't want anyone to panic We believe that we are as prepared as we can be for this crisis," Deal said.
Matthew has already left behind a path of destruction. The death toll in Haiti rose to 108 Thursday, according to the country's interior minister.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Deal declared a state of emergency for 30 counties as the hurricane began to make its way toward the coast. The threat of Matthew to Georgia coastal communities is a huge concern.
"Some folks will be impacted by this storm and we have to accept that," GEMHSA director Jim Butterworth said.
TRAFFIC NOTE: The Georgia Department of Public Safety has closed I-16 to eastbound traffic. All lanes are traveling westbound.
Inside the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, a map showed the uncertain path of the storm.
"That impact sort of remains unknown at this point, but we are continuing to press forward," Butterworth said.
"The key is they got to be able to adapt to any changes at the last minute, and I think that's where our leaders have to be very aware of what's going on," Ken Keen with the Goizueta Business School said.
A mandatory evacuation was issued for Tybee Island Wednesday. People left the island and boarded up businesses to avoid possible devastation.
The president declared an emergency in Florida ahead of Matthew Thursday afternoon. He ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts. The action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.
Deal says he has asked for Federal assistance as well.
"Let's all pray that Georgia and our neighbors up and down the coast are spared from the disastrous effects that could come from a hurricane of this magnitude," Deal said
Hurricane Matthew will impact coastal Georgia, with 5 to 10 inches of rain possible.
The storm will be coming along the coast of Georgia Friday night into Saturday morning.
Hurricane-force winds are possible along the coast as early as Saturday as the hurricane passes.
The Savannah College of Art and Design evacuated students Thursday. The campus is closed until Sunday, Oct. 9, the school said.
Hurricane Matthew will impact coastal GA. 5-10" of rain possible. If the path changes, then impacts will change. pic.twitter.com/hrSeQcLrf2— Karen Minton (@KarenMintonWSB) October 6, 2016
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