After passing over Cuba overnight, Hurricane Matthew is now a category 3 storm. Forecast models have drastically changed overnight and as of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service says that the forecast track Hurricane Matthew has shifted slightly eastward. The National Weather Service Meteorologists stress that people should not focus only on the forecast track and there is still a great deal of uncertainty with this storm.
Gov. Pat McCrory told WWAY that while officials are cautiously optimistic with the turn of events in the forecast this morning, North Carolinians still need to prepare. He said that even if the storm should turn away from North Carolina there is still a very real threat from flooding, the potential for high winds and power outages.
Bladen County Emergency Management Bradley Kinlaw said, “Forecast models this morning (Wednesday) have it staying offshore. Right now, we are maintaining our posture for a Category 3 storm.”
Kinlaw said Emergency Management officials are continuing to monitor the storm and its forecast track. “People should not let their guard down just because the forecast track has shifted a little,” said Kinlaw.
He said as of Wednesday morning, Bladen County is still moving forward with their emergency operations planning. Kinlaw said Emergency Management officials are planning to open emergency shelters on Friday afternoon and exact times will be announced Friday morning.
There are four shelters located in Bladen County and they are as follows:
*Bladen Lakes Primary School located 9554 Johnsontown Road, Elizabethtown;
*East Bladen High School located at 5600 NC Highway 87 East, Elizabethtown;
*Bladen Community College Annex-East Arcadia Campus located at 1472 East Arcadia Road, Riegelwood;
*West Bladen High School – pet friendly located at 1600 NC Highway 410, Bladenboro.
Forecasters are predicting rainfall amount between 3 to 5 inches and the potential for flash flooding and flooding of low lying areas remains. The storm’s closest approach to coastal North Carolina is forecast for Saturday and Saturday night.
Rainfall is forecast to begin Friday night and continue through Saturday. Rain may be heavy at times.
Kinlaw said everyone should continue to pay close attention to the forecast.