Hurricane Matthew Bears Down On South Florida

The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports:

Strong winds, heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge were beginning to spread over the Bahamas Wednesday from Category 3 Hurricane Matthew, which is tracking north toward the east coast of Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The possibility that South Florida could be struck by a storm of at least Category 3 strength represents the greatest hurricane threat to the region in many years. A Category 3 storm, which produces winds of 111-129 miles per hour, is capable of causing “devastating” damage, according to the hurricane center.

The Broward and Palm Beach county school districts announced plans to close Thursday and Friday. Lynn University cancelled classes for Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday. Florida Atlantic University plans an announcement Wednesday morning.

Palm Beach County will decide late Wednesday morning whether to issue evacuation orders, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said. A slight deviation in the storm’s projected path could bring winds of up to Category 4 strength to South Florida, said Bill Johnson, director of emergency management for Palm Beach County.

Broward County will open shelters Wednesday night, anticipating heavy winds arriving Thursday. Broward Mayor Marty Kiar said shelters will be available for children, people with special needs, people with pets and the general population, including people who are homeless.

The hurricane center, which had previously thought the storm would weaken significantly as it passed over Cuba, now projects it to remain a major hurricane of Category 3 strength or higher, for its entire projected course. Florida Power & Light Co. announced it was activating its emergency response plan, preparing to deploy 4,000 workers to restore power.