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Even though the Florida Keys weren’t in the forecast cone for Hurricane Matthew earlier in the week, effects of the storm could rain down in the Upper and Middle Keys on Thursday.

The category 4 hurricane touched down around 7 a.m., Tuesday, in western Haiti with maximum sustained winds near 145 miles per hour, said Bill South, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Key West.

Now, the hurricane is going to take a general northward track over eastern Cuba, moving north into the central Bahamas, he said.

South said the National Hurricane Center will most likely issue a storm watch for the Upper and Middle Keys with winds of about 25 to 35 mph with gusts at 35 to 45 mph from tonight through Thursday night.

“We’re expecting minor coastal flooding through Saturday at high tide on the bayside of the Upper Keys. We’re on the western fringe of the storm,” he said.

Even if Matthew weakens, it will still be a powerful storm in the Bahamas with the potential to be at least a category 3 hurricane for those islands. Then it will approach eastern, central and northern Florida late this week, South said.

As it hugs the east coast moving north, Matthew is expected to approach North Carolina and South Carolina and make land fall somewhere along the South Carolina border possibly this weekend, he added.

Hurricane Matthew originated off the coast of Africa, he said, like hundreds of other tropical waves that move through the Atlantic basin during hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

South said there are no other serious storms brewing behind Matthew yet.


Wilma was the last hurricane to make landfall anywhere in Florida in October 2005, ruining vehicles, homes and businesses in its path.