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State of Emergency Declared for Florida as Powerful Hurricane Matthew Closes In

As people flee from the dangerous hurricane Matthew, the National Guard go to the danger.

MIAMI, FL — Leaving more than 100 dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew steamed toward Florida with terrifying winds of 140 mph Thursday, and 2 million people across the Southeast were warned to flee inland.

It was the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade.

The hurricane gained fury at it closed in, growing from a possibly devastating Category 3 storm to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 by late morning.

It was expected to scrape nearly the entire length of Florida's Atlantic coast beginning Thursday evening. From there, forecasters said, it could push its way just off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina before veering out to sea.

About 2 million people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to head for safety, and interstate highways were turned into one-way routes to speed the exodus. Scott said Florida could be looking at its biggest evacuation ever.

Forecasters said Matthew's fiercest winds appeared unlikely to strike Miami or Fort Lauderdale, the most densely populated areas in Florida, with about 4.4 million residents. Those cities were expected to get tropical storm-force winds of between 39 mph and 73 mph.

Instead, forecasters said the West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral areas farther north could get the brunt of the storm.

As of 1 a.m. EDT, Matthew was 145 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, moving toward the city at about 14 mph. Nearly all of Florida's Atlantic coast and Georgia's entire coast were under hurricane warnings.

With hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 60 miles from the storm's center, Matthew could wreak havoc along the coast even if it were to stay just offshore.

In inland Orlando, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld announced plans to close early.

The Fort Lauderdale Airport closed late in the morning, and the Orlando airport planned to shut down as well. Airlines canceled more than 2,800 flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday, many of them in or out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Forecasted path of Matthew as of 3 p.m. CST (10/6/16) per Weather.com

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