A weakening but still powerful Hurricane Matthew turned its wrath toward shore areas of South Carolina early Saturday, packing sustained 105 mph winds and heavy rain and threatening serious flooding after raking the coasts of Georgia and Florida.
It was being blamed for at least four deaths in the U.S., all in Florida.
The Category 2 hurricane was forecast by the hurricane center to approach North Carolina’s southern coast by Saturday night.
“Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane while the center is near the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina,” the center said at 5 a.m.
Matthew was about 30 miles south-southwest of Charleston at 7 a.m., the hurricane center said, and some 115 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving north-northeast at 12 mph, the center said.
CBS Charleston affiliate WCSC reported, “The expected turn away from the coast has not occurred. A trough to the west of us to was expected to push Matthew to turn.”
More than 100,000 homes and businesses were in the dark early Saturday in coastal Georgia as gusty winds strengthened and rain grew more severe. Some 150,000 customers were without power in South Carolina and more than a million in Florida.
Some of Georgia’s resort islands were expected to take the brunt of Matthew’s storm surge, including St. Simons and Tybee.
Matthew spared Florida’s most heavily populated stretch from a catastrophic blow Friday but threatened some of the South’s most historic and picturesque cities with ruinous flooding and wind damage as it pushed its way up the coastline.
Among the cities in the crosshairs were St. Augustine, Florida; Savannah and Charleston.
Matthew – the most powerful hurricane to hit the Atlantic Seaboard in over a decade – set off alarm as it closed in on the U.S. after leaving hundreds dead in Haiti.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.