Forecasters track Hurricane Matthew as a potential threat to Cape Fear region

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UPDATE: As of 8 p.m., The National Weather Service had upgraded Hurricane Matthew to a Category 4 storm, with winds of 150 mph.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Wilmington are closely watching Hurricane Matthew, which they say could hit the southeastern North Carolina Coast late next week.

Hurricane Matthew is about 500 miles east of Jamaica and moving westward. (Satellite image from National Weather Service).
Hurricane Matthew is about 500 miles east of Jamaica and moving westward. (Satellite image from National Weather Service).

The storm has been being watched for several days and intensified into a Category 2 hurricane overnight. On Friday morning,  the storm was on the move about 500 miles east of Jamaica, moving west at 14 miles-per-hour with winds estimated at over 105 mph.

Currently, however, the storm is only being observed.

“The uncertainty of the track is high, as the models disagree on when and where the storm will turn northward,” briefing on storm released Friday states. “One should not focus on the exact track of Matthew, as it will shift over time.”

If the current forecast holds true, however, the storm is expected to turn northwest toward Cuba and Florida in the early morning hours of Monday.

“While most models show the storm moving off our coast, the uncertainty is high,” the briefing states. “When and where Matthew turns is still uncertain. If the hurricane turns later, the track may shift to the west and have a greater chance of impacting our area. It is still too early to become confident this storm will remain off the coast.”

The National Weather Service plans on updating its information about Hurricane Matthew on Monday, unless conditions warrant an earlier update.

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