Hurricane Matthew Likely to Spare DC But Devastate Florida

As many as 1.5 million people are fleeing their homes in the south as Hurricane Matthew barrels toward the U.S., but the latest projections show the powerful storm will steer clear of the D.C. area.

The storm hammered the central Bahamas Thursday morning and is expected to gain strength as it moves toward Florida.

"We're dodging a bullet," Storm Team4 Meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said Thursday morning. 

There's a 30 percent chance of rain in the D.C. area Friday, with a high of 71 degrees and low of 59 degrees. Showers are expected to continue Saturday, with a 60 percent chance of rain and a high of 69 degrees and low of 63 degrees.

People who have flights to southern states this week should brace themselves for changes. Nearly 2,700 flights had been canceled as of Thursday morning, according to

Those numbers may increase as airlines prepare to suspend flights in the south, depending on the expected path of the hurricane. 

While Hurricane Matthew will not impact the D.C. area directly, many people are changing their travel plans ahead of the storm. News4 transportation reporter Adam Tuss has more.

Matthew was upgraded to a Category 4 storm Thursday morning; it's expected to reach the coast of Florida late Thursday. 

"This is about the worst-case scenario for Florida," Storm Team4 Meteorologist Chuck Bell said. "Usually hurricanes just sort of make a right angle approach and they only affect a small part of the coast line. This one could be Category 3 or 4, stretched up across two or three hundred miles of coastline. This is an unprecedented storm and approach for the coast of Florida." 

The storm could make landfall north of Palm Beach and move along the coast through Melbourne, Cape Canaveral, Daytona Beach, Saint Augustine and potentially as far north as Jacksonville before it moves back into open water.

The hurricane is then expected to head out into the ocean, east of the Carolinas.

Matthew could pose a serious threat to life and property, so if you have friends and relatives in these areas, tell them to listen to emergency managers and heed evacuation orders. Residents in affected areas should secure final items on Thursday and prepare a "go box" containing important paperwork that will help restart their lives if necessary after the storm passes.

Matthew could return to the South after heading into the Atlantic Ocean, potentially posing a second threat to Florida in the middle of next week.

While Matthew is not expected to strike the D.C. area, rainfall could force the Washington Nationals playoffs games Friday and Saturday to be postponed.

Stay with Storm Team4 and NBC Washington for frequent updates on the storm.

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