The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew’s top sustained winds have risen from 115 mph (185 kph) to 125 mph (205 kph) in just a few hours early Thursday as the storm continues to batter the central Bahamas.
The center says it is extending a hurricane warning area already covering a large swath of Florida’s Atlantic coast further northward to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. It also says a newly expanded hurricane watch now extends from the Altamaha Sound up the coast to the South Santee River in South Carolina.
The center added in its 5 a.m. Thursday update that Matthew should gain further in intensity over the next day or so and is forecast to become a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Matthew’s center is now about 255 miles (410 kilometers) southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, and moving northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) over the Bahamas.