More than 350,000 without power in Florida as Matthew moves along coast

Hurricane Matthew east coast

MIAMI (UPI) — At least 350,00 customers are without power throughout Florida as Hurricane Matthew makes its pass along the state’s east coast with strong winds and flooding rain.

Hurricane Matthew is still a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds, moving north-northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is currently 40 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral and about 90 miles southeast of Daytona Beach.

As of 7 a.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center discontinued a tropical storm warning south of Boca Raton, including the Miami-Dade County area. A hurricane warning has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning from Jupiter Inlet to Boca Raton.

“The satellite appearance of Matthew has become rather disheveled king in infrared satellite imagery since the previous advisory,” forecasters said.

Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy, two of the larger electric utilities in the state, reported outages in coastal counties that included Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and inland counties such as Orange and Seminole. As of 5 a.m. Friday, Brevard County had 100,140 customers and Palm Beach County had 52,500 without power.

“As the feeder bands come onshore, wind gusts can blow tree branches and other debris into power lines, causing outages,” FPL spokesman Bill Orlove told the Sun-Sentinel, located in South Florida.

With some of the strongest weather now reaching Volusia County, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s Communications Center is receiving numerous calls reporting blown transformers catching fire and knocking out power, power lines down, arcing and sparking tree fires and downed trees and tree limbs blocking roadways.

As of early Friday, the eye of the hurricane had not made landfall, perhaps sparing south Florida more significant wind damage. Strong waves damaged the pier in Deerfield Beach, Fla., but there were no reports of damage in Broward County to the south.

Forecasters warn Matthew could still bring storm surges and flooding, and strong wind gusts to coastal areas as it moves north.