Hurricane Matthew approaches Fla. coast as Cat 3

TAMPA, FLA. (WTSP)--THE LATEST ON HURRICANE MATTHEW

As of 2 a.m Friday Hurricane Matthew is a catastrophic Category 3 storm with maximum winds of 120 miles per hour as it approaches the Florida east coast.

The "extremely dangerous" eye of the storm is moving closer to the Space Coast. The storm is currently 45 miles east of Vero Beach and 80 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral.

A 70 mph wind gust was reported within the last hour at Vero Beach and a 60 mph gust was reported at Melbourne.

The center of Matthew will move near or over the east coast over through Friday night, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Although Matthew weakened slightly and more weakening is expected over the next 48 hours, the hurricane still presents a major threat due to storm surge and wind speeds. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center.

There is a Hurricane Warning from Boca Raton north to the Santee River.

Locally, there is a Tropical Storm Watch for the regional coastal areas from Hillsborough south to Sarasota-DeSoto Counties. Inland Watch advisories are issued for Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties.

Polk, Highlands, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco County are under a Tropical Storm Warning.

Wind speeds have picked up to 34 mph gusts.

According to the National Weather Center in Miami, Matthew is still a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Hurricane conditions are expected to first reach the hurricane warning area in Florida this evening and will spread northward within the warning area through Friday.  Tropical storm conditions will continue to spread northward in the warning area along the Florida east coast tonight and Friday.


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