US President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida as Hurricane Matthew strengthened and headed for the U.S. Southeast, the White House said on Thursday.
The action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts necessitated by the storm, a Category 4 hurricane packing winds of 140 mph (220 kph).
President Obama continues to receive the latest updates throughout the day on our preparation and response efforts to Hurricane Matthew.
America has not seen a hurricane this strong in almost a decade. History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly, so we are encouraging coastal residents to monitor weather conditions and take steps to prepare.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts that Hurricane Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, and heavy rains along extensive portions of Florida tonight.
When a hurricane is forecasted to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecasted to do from Florida through South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to specify impacts at any one location.
Only a small deviation of the track to the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of a major hurricane onshore within the hurricane warning area in Florida and Georgia.
Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in effect. Listen to the directions of your state, tribal, and local officials in your area.
If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait, evacuate. Evacuations are not just a coastal event. Strong winds will occur well inland from the coast, and residents of mobile homes under evacuation orders are urged to heed those orders.
For storm information specific to your area in the United States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please monitor your local National Weather Service forecast office at weather.gov., white house added.