Boston – Hurricane Matthew has thousands fleeing the US Southeast where it’s expected to batter the coastline and threaten electricity supplies to more than 1 million people in Florida. Potential losses are seen as high as $15 billion.

Matthew is pounding parts of the central Bahamas with maximum sustained winds at 185km/h and is expected to intensify as it approaches Florida, the US National Hurricane Centre said in a 2am New York time advisory. The Category 3 storm closed the Buckeye oil terminal in Freeport, Bahamas, and could disrupt petroleum shipments along the US East Coast.

 

The National Weather Service warned that winds, heavy rain and a storm surge could kill, wash out roads, cut communication links and cause outages lasting weeks. Evacuations could push storm damage to $10 billion to $15 billion mainly in losses related to economic disruption, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeller with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. Jonathan Adams and Jeffrey Flynn, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence, projected losses to be closer to $5 billion, with Florida bearing the brunt.

“The big thing is that the Northeast gets spared, which is good and bad, because they actually needed the rain, and the Outer Banks too,” said Evan Duffey, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Regardless, the Bahamas and Florida are going to see a deteriorating situation throughout the day. Landfall is still possible in Florida.”

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