Hurricane Matthew steadily made its way towards Florida as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Thursday.
Governor Rick Scott said the storm is expected to have “devastating impacts” on the state’s coastline. As many as 60,000 homes and businesses experienced power outage on Thursday.
The severe weather was expected to come frighteningly close to north of West Palm Beach, putting almost 1.1 million people at risk, before progressing north along the Interstate 95 corridor through Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville, the National Hurricane Center reports.
Hurricane Matthew: More severe damage expected than 2012 Superstorm Sandy
As reported by FOX News, the storm is expected to touch the coast of Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, moving out into a sea, and finally returning to Florida in the middle of next week.
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville said this time there could be a more severe storm surge than what the New Jersey shore experienced during the 2012 Superstorm Sandy.
Scott has ordered the evacuation of more than a million people in 14 counties and urged them to seek shelters away from the coastline. It is the first massive evacuation in Florida in more than 10 years. Florida’s Turnpike and Alligator Alley saw a dramatic increase in traffic flow. As many as 2,000 more cars than the historical average between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. were seen along the Bee Line Expressway, Orlando, Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) said.
In Jacksonville, around 450,000 residents living in coastal towns along St. Jones River were urged to evacuate their homes, USA Today reports. More than 3,000 Florida National Guard members have been deployed by Scott to help in rescue efforts and recovery missions.
Hurricane Matthew: States of emergency issued for Florida and South Carolina
On Thursday, a state of emergency was declared in Florida and South Carolina by President Barack Obama, calling for federal aid along with state and local emergency response teams.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the area from Sebastian Inlet, Florida, to the Edisto Beach, South Carolina, could experience a water level reaching as high as 7 to 11 feet above ground level if the peak surge coincides with high tide, Weather.com notes. This draws parallels with what New Jersey and New York experienced during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. In comparison, the highest surge values during Sandy were 4 to 9 feet above ground level.
In 2005, Wilma, the last hurricane of Category 3 or higher to strike the United States, was responsible for the deaths of five people. Bringing along winds as high as 120 miles per hour, Wilma had caused an estimated $21 billion in damage.