Matthew hammers Florida, begins dayslong beating of coast

Traffic stacks up on I-75 North fleeing the coast and Hurricane Matthew on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, near McDonough. FEMA officials said Thursday that crews were deployed to emergency operation centers in Albany, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The agency says more than 444,000 liters of water and 513,000 meals along with thousands of cots and blankets will be on site. Jim Butterworth, director at the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, says he expects the storm to arrive in coastal Georgia late Friday and continue through Saturday night. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Hurricane Matthew’s howling wind and driving rain pummeled Florida early Friday, starting what’s expected to be a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast.

The strongest winds of 120 mph have been just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath is still menacing more than 500 miles of coastline.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

RELATED: The latest forecast from Storm Team 2

The number of homes and businesses without power has jumped by the hour as the storm edges closer to the coast. More than 270,000 are in the dark this morning.

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