Image: AP

Category 3 Hurricane Matthew swept up eastern Florida today, delivering heavy rainfall, 100 mph gusts, and powerful waves all along the coast. The storm continues to march northward toward Georgia and South Carolina, with deadly six to nine foot surges possible into weekend.

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Mercifully, Matthew has stayed far enough off Florida’s coast to avoid inflicting maximal damage. Nevertheless, images of storm surge flooding have been hitting the social media feeds all day, and they are pretty dramatic.

Matthew is expected to weaken gradually as it churns up the cost, hitting Georgia and South Carolina with Category 2-3 force. The National Hurricane Center warns that “life threatening” surge is possible from Cocoa Beach, Florida all the way up to Cape Fear, North Carolina, over the next 36 hours.

After dealing a direct and devastating blow to Haiti earlier in the week, Matthew’s hotly-anticipated US arrival feels a bit tempered. That makes us lucky: but it’s important to remember that a slight course correction, or the onset of hurricane winds in conjunction with high tide, could change the coastal situation in a minute. As President Obama noted earlier today, Matthew is “still a really dangerous hurricane,” and everyone in its path needs to stay vigilant.

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Just take a cue from this stork.