10:45 p.m.: Vanilla Ice is live-tweeting the hurricane, fwiw. Donnie Wahlberg wants him to stay safe, which is nice.
9:45 p.m.: Tropical storm-level winds are registering in Florida as the storm inches closer to the coastline.
Update, 9:35 p.m.: Power outages also expected to be a problem during and after the storm hits.
Update, 9:25 p.m.: As a reminder of the severity of the storm, the day after footage of the devastation in Haiti:
Update, 9:15 p.m.: If you’re an apocalyptic optimist and still somehow were considering that day at Disney World on Friday, you’re out of luck. It’s closed. Universal Studios and SeaWorld are both closed too, in case you were wondering. And you shouldn’t have been wondering.
Before Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, some residents who refused to evacuate were asked to write their Social Security numbers on their arms in permanent marker so that they could be identified if they did not survive, Cara L. Cuite, an associate research professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey who studies risk communication, wrote in an email.
Update, 8:30 p.m.: Florida authorities have been ratcheting up the fear campaign as a last ditch attempt to get residents in the path of Matthew to evacuate inland. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already urged 1.5 million in the state to flee as the storm lined up the Florida coast with 140 mile-per-hour winds. “Are you willing to take a chance to risk your life? Are you willing to take a gamble?” Scott said. “That’s what you’re doing. If you’re reluctant to evacuate, just think of all the people the storm has already killed. You and your family could be among these numbers if you don’t take this seriously.”
“Anything more you can do to get people to know the severity of this, please do so,” Scott pleaded. “Unfortunately, this is going to kill people.”
This Florida sheriff took the dire warnings one step darker:
Fox News’ Sheppard Smith went one, well, several steps farther: “This moves 20 miles to the West and you and everyone you know are dead. All of you… and your kids die too.”
Update, 8:10 p.m.: The restaurant chain Waffle House has closed its restaurants along a 100-mile coastal stretch of Florida in the anticipated path of Hurricane Matthew. That’s a bad sign for the so-called “Waffle House Index” of danger. “They are open most of the time. And that was the index. If a Waffle House is closed because there’s a disaster, it’s bad. We call it red,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate told NPR.
Update, 1:10 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew is now officially a Category 4 storm, which means its winds are reaching speeds between 140 and 165 mph. The storm may even soon reach Category 5 status—the most dangerous level at which hurricanes are classified—and hurricane warnings have been issued for cities as widely spread as Palm Beach, Orlando (which is about 40 miles inland of the Atlantic) and Savannah, Georgia.**
Matthew’s death toll in the Caribbean now stands at an estimated 113, including 108 deaths in Haiti.
Original post, 9:35 a.m.: Hurricane Matthew, which could make landfall in the United as a Category 4 storm early Friday, is expected to begin creating heavy rain and wind conditions in Florida later Thursday. More than 2 million people in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have been urged to evacuate in what CNN describes as the largest evacuation process in the United States since 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott made the case to leave in about the strongest terms possible Thursday morning:
“This is serious. … Don’t take a chance. A small movement [of the storm] could mean a lot. That’s why we have to prepare for a direct hit. So again, if you need to evacuate and you haven’t, evacuate. This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don’t have that much time left.”
Here’s a recent map of the storm:
And a projection of its path:
At least 15 people have already died as a result of the hurricane in Caribbean countries.*
*Correction, Oct. 6, 2016: This post originally misspelled Caribbean.
**Correction, Oct. 6, 2016: This post originally misstated that a hurricane warning has been issued for Miami. Miami is currently under a tropical storm warning.