Emergency officials on the Treasure Coast spent most of the day discussing storm advisories as they prepared for Hurricane Matthew to make its way to the east coast of Florida. Four deaths have been documented in the Dominican Republic and five were reported in Haiti.
The storm was moving along the Windward Passage between Haiti and Jamaica, where it was also dumping heavy rain that caused flooding in parts of the country.
Assuming the final track of Matthew does hug the Carolina coast on Saturday, which is expected to be a Category 2 Hurricane with winds around 100mph, the weather conditions across our viewing region will vary from breezy conditions west of Charlotte, to windy conditions around Charlotte, to gusty winds east of Charlotte with scattered power outages. If you don't get out in time, you might actually get stuck.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti this morning, lashing the western shores of the country with 145 miles per hour winds and causing thousands of Haitians to seek emergency shelter.
"We are continuing to mobilize teams in the south to move people away from risky areas", said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti's civil protection agency. At least 1,200 people were moved to shelters in churches and schools. But many were too afraid to leave their homes, in case they were robbed. "The population was distraught because of the rise of the water".
Images posted on social media Tuesday showed raging, muddy floodwaters almost overflowing river banks, and driving wind and rain that bent palm trees almost in half. "Pray for us!" a voice is heard yelling. "Even if the center of the hurricane does stay offshore, we would still have the potential for coastal flooding, beach erosion, battering surf, rain and gusty winds", Dolce said.
The full extent of Matthew's blow to Haiti remained unclear with communications nearly fully severed to some regions in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation - where tens of thousands of people still living in tents after a powerful natural disaster six years ago killed 200,000 people.
"Thankfully the force of the storm was not so strong in Port-au-Prince, where 50,000 to 60,000 people are still living in tents after the quake of 2010", said Jean Claude Fignole, a program director in Haiti for the global aid agency Oxfam. Some crops in the south of the country were destroyed.
"At this point, we're stating that initial preparations should be underway", Steve Pfaff, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Wilmington office, said. It added that while maximum winds decreased slightly in recent hours, the fluctuation in intensity was expected and some slight strengthening is forecast in coming days. "But because everybody is a bit hypersensitive to how vulnerable Haiti is, and is really committed to improving on past response efforts, there was a lot of mobilization of resources and supplies and pre-positioning of teams".
The storm is the strongest Caribbean hurricane in almost a decade and the most powerful to hit Haiti in 52 years, since Hurricane Cleo struck in the same location.
The Miami forecasters issued a hurricane warning for the area north of Golden Beach near Fort Lauderdale to Sebastian Inlet, meaning hurricane force winds of 74 miles per hour or higher are expected within two days.
Forecasters say Hurricane Matthew is now heading toward the central and northwestern Bahamas. Since then, the Cuban government has formed brigades in every province focused on preparedness before a storm hits and clean-up afterward, according to the state-run newspaper Granma.
The Pentagon said 700 family members of personnel were evacuated from the USA naval base in Guantanamo Bay, on Cuba's eastern tip, over the weekend to Florida.
At Guantanamo, the Navy evacuated about 700 spouses and children of service members.
About 1 million people were evacuated from Cuba's coastal areas. Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Florida on Monday, designating resources for evacuations and shelters and putting the National Guard on standby.
Social media was full of reports Monday evening of farmers operating harvesting equipment with lights, apparently trying to gather crops before the storm arrives.
"Although our track is to the east of Florida, interests there should remain vigilant and we can't rule out the possibility of impacts", Pasch said. "That is why everyone in our state must prepare today for a direct hit".
The aircraft carrier George Washington, the hospital ship Comfort, and amphibious ship Mesa Verde could also be deployed, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
The key port of Les Cayes, the country's third city is "very seriously damaged", said Hervil Cherubin, Haiti director for the aid group Heifer International.