Hurricane Matthew weakens slightly to Category 3 storm

Workers from Armstrong Construction put plywood over windows of a home in preparation for Hurricane Matthew Wednesday, Oct. 5, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. People boarded up beach homes, schools closed and officials ordered evacuations along the East Coast on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew tore through the Bahamas and took aim at Florida, where the governor urged coastal residents to "leave now" if they were able. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Matthew is just offshore of Florida’s east coast Friday morning.

But the National Hurricane Center says the Category 3 storm’s western eyewall is approaching Cape Canaveral with hurricane-force winds.

As of 5 a.m. Friday, Matthew is centered about 40 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral and is moving north-northwest near 13 mph.

But even though the eye is still off-shore, Florida is already seeing strong winds. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says sustained winds of 46 mph and a gust of 70 mph have been reported in Melbourne, Florida.

More than 270,000 in Florida are without power.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

The storm is expected to produce a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast. The strongest winds were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline.

Matthew weakened slightly Friday morning to a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph. But the U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves closer to Florida’s coast.

 

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