Although the National Hurricane Center's official forecast for Hurricane Matthew showed it going east of Florida, officials said it's still too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts to the East Coast.
Sunday, the Category 4 storm's strongest winds – 145 mph – were on the northeast side and extended out 30 miles.
The National Hurricane Center cautions Matthew's actual path could vary 175 to 230 miles east or west from current projections by the time it gets to the Treasure Coast.
"Although the official forecast continues to show a track east of Florida, it is still too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts there," said the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. advisory on Sunday. Forecasters are urging residents to keep a close eye on the storm.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne is expecting some rain bands and squalls with tropical storm force winds exceeding 39 mph on Thursday on the Treasure Coast. Rain chances on Thursday are 60 percent.
Based on Sunday's projections, boaters probably will be advised to stay out of the coastal waters and the ocean where winds could be even higher, forecasters said.
"At a minimum, it will be breezy with dangerous rip current at the beaches, along with the possibility of significant beach erosion," according to a National Weather Service bulletin issued Sunday by forecasters Scott Kelly and Tim Sedlock.
Right now, the storm is predicted to be southeast of Stuart by Thursday afternoon and east of Daytona Beach on Friday afternoon.
Forecasters say it is too early to say if the storm's aftermath could include days of increased rains.
On Monday and Tuesday, Matthew is predicted to hit Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the land crossings may affect its strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By Wednesday it is predicted to be in the Bahamas where ocean water temperatures are cooler than in Caribbean. Warm waters "fuel" hurricanes, according to the National Hurricane Center.
So far the storm has been staying close to its projected path. Now it is moving almost due north between two atmospheric conditions: a low-pressure trough in the Gulf of Mexico and a high-pressure ridge east of Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott, in a prepared statement, cautioned Floridians to prepare ahead of time for any possible impact from the hurricane.
Matthew currently is the strongest storm since Hurricane Charley that hit southwest Florida during August 2004, causing $15.1 million in damages. It went northeast and passed through Orlando.
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