Published December 03, 2016
The Latest on Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole (all times local):
Officials at Florida's major airports are monitoring conditions as Hurricane Matthew bears down on Florida.
On its website, Fort Lauderdale International Airport announced plans to close at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Officials advised travelers to check with individual airlines about flight plans.
Officials at Miami International Airport will continue monitoring the storm and warned of possible flight cancellations. On its website, officials noted that generally "airports don't' operate in sustained crosswinds that exceed 35 mph."
The Palm Beach International Airport website doesn't say when flights will be suspended, but asked travelers to stay away, noting that the airport is not intended for use as a shelter.
In Orlando airport officials are preparing for hurricane conditions. In a note on its website, officials at Orlando International Airport say they plan to being "reducing flights into Orlando and altering schedules starting Thursday, lasting through Friday." They, too, advise travelers to get in contact with individual airlines for flight plans.
The Jacksonville International Airport website also advises travelers to check flight status with the airlines before heading to the airport.
With Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida, patients are being transferred from two waterfront hospitals and a nursing home near Daytona Beach to facilities away from the coast.
Florida Hospital Oceanside in Ormond Beach and Florida Hospital New Smyrna moved about 85 patients Wednesday. The emergency room at Oceanside also was closed on Wednesday, but the emergency room at Florida Hospital New Smyrna remained open.
Halifax Health Medical Center, a public health system in Daytona Beach, plans to be fully staffed during the hurricane's passage. Spokesman John Guthrie tells The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/2d5oIg4) the hospital is ready to take care of any medical emergencies during the storm.
One of the area's largest nursing homes, meanwhile, is relocating about 170 patients to five facilities in the area. Receptionist Sandy Longenecker at Ocean View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in New Smyrna Beach told the newspaper the moves are being made before a bridge to the mainland would close to traffic.
Officials say some 3,000 people have already checked into shelters in Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew's approach.
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, 48 shelters are already providing refuge for 3,015 people in Florida. Another 13 special needs shelters are already housing 31 people.
The shelters are all in schools in areas where evacuations — either mandatory or voluntary — are underway. The Florida counties include Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Glades, Martin, Duval and Brevard.
Special needs shelters are designed to aid people with disabilities. Shelters are listed at floridadisaster.org.
The murder trial of a man accused of intentionally leaving his toddler son in a hot SUV to die is being put on hold as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the Georgia coast where the man's being prosecuted.
Local news organizations report a judge said the trial of Justin Ross Harris would be in recess Thursday and Friday and resume Monday.
Prosecutors have said Harris intentionally killed his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him for hours in a vehicle parked outside the father's workplace in Cobb County near Atlanta. Cooper's lawyers say the death was accidental.
The trial was moved to Brunswick on the coast because of pretrial publicity.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday urged residents of several coastal counties, including the one where Brunswick is located, to evacuate.
Forecasters say Hurricane Matthew has gained new muscle over the Bahamas and they are also expanding the hurricane warning area further up the Southeast Atlantic seacoast from Florida into Georgia.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew's top sustained winds have risen from 115 mph (185 kph) to 125 mph (205 mph) in just a few hours early Thursday as the storm continues to batter the central Bahamas.
The center says it is extending a hurricane warning area already covering a large swath of Florida's Atlantic coast further northward to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. It also says a newly expanded hurricane watch now extends from the Altamaha Sound up the coast to the South Santee River in South Carolina.
The center added in its 5 a.m. Thursday update that Matthew should gain further in intensity over the next day or so and is forecast to become a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida's Atlantic coast.
Matthew's center is now about 255 miles (410 kilometers) southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, and moving northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) over the Bahamas.
Forecasters say Hurricane Matthew is now pounding portions of the Central Bahamas and is expected to strengthen as it approaches Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Matthew remains a powerful Category 3 storm with top sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as of 2 a.m. EDT Thursday. It added that Matthew is expected to intensify over the next day or so and is forecast to again become a dangerous Category 4 hurricane as it nears Florida's Atlantic coast.
Matthew was briefly a very dangerous Category 5 storm on its march across the Caribbean. By early Thursday, Matthew was centered about 295 miles (480 kilometers) southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida. It also was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south-southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas.
The Miami forecasting center said no changes have been made to the existing hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches as of 2 a.m. EDT.