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Hurricane Matthew heads toward Florida; Hampton Roads may escape direct hit




The morning’s forecast track shows Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks of North Carolina will escape a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew this weekend as the storm moves through the Bahamas and takes aim at Florida.

Hurricane hunter airplanes found signs that Matthew is strengthening this morning near the northwestern Bahamas, but remained a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Matthew is expected to grow back to Category 4 status by the time it reaches the Florida coast.

Forecasters believe the storm will continue northwest from the Bahamas and its eye will brush along the Florida coast and continue along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina before turning east early Sunday morning. By 2 a.m. Monday, the storm should be heading south and continue into Tuesday morning.

The storm’s path beyond Tuesday remains uncertain.

North Carolina officials suspended mandatory evacuation orders Wednesday for Ocracoke Island, but forecasters say everyone should continue to be vigilant.

Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina still are likely to see showers Friday night and Saturday morning as a cold front passes through the region and Matthew’s northern edge passes by. Rainfall totals should be less than 2 inches with the highest amounts in northeastern North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service. The rainfall isn’t expected to cause flooding.

The threat for tropical storm force winds continues, but is low for North Carolina and Hampton Roads. Gusty winds will continue to blow onshore through the weekend. Low-lying and coastal areas could see some minor flooding.

A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Hampton Roads and eastern Currituck County today because of winds blowing onshore, according to the National Weather Service. Any flooding should be minor and will be most noticeable during high tides. A high surf advisory also is in effect along Virginia Beach and Currituck with waves from 7 to 9 feet.

This morning is starting off with patchy drizzle and a slight chance for showers that will persist through the day. Northeast winds will continue at 13 mph and high temperatures will be about 72.

The chance for showers will increase overnight into Friday with a high of about 77. Heavy rain is likely Saturday with a high of 75. The chance for rain will decrease to about 50 percent for Sunday when the high will be just under 70.

We could see partly cloudy skies on Monday with breezy conditions and a high of 69.

Partly sunny skies will return on Tuesday with a high of 72.

Cindy Clayton, 757-446-2377,

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