Hurricane Matthew Bears Down on Florida: Live Updates

5 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast keeps in place the tropical storm warning for Miami-Dade and a hurricane warning for Broward and Palm Beach. Matthew remains a Category 4 storm as its 140 mph maximum sustained winds head for the Treasure Coast.

There is one update of interest to South Florida, though: Forecasters now believe that Matthew will, in fact, loop back toward Florida for a second pass early next week. The loop is real! But forecasts suggest the storm will be much weaker by then: 

4:45 p.m.: Despite pleas from officials and dire warnings of dangerous surf and surge, keeping people off the beach hasn't been easy in South Florida. Broward County's top brass stood before a line of cameras earlier this afternoon and implored residents to stay indoors. They warned that all roads would close at 3 p.m. and that, after that, it'd be difficult for first responders to reach those still out and about.

"We keep seeing on TV folks who are at the beach, who are outside right now, who are in the ocean," Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar said. "And we're asking if you are, please go home, go to a shelter and keep yourself and your family safe."
But a number of locals either don't know or don't care. As Matthew inched closer, webcams showed people still strolling on the sand and frolicking in the waves in Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. At least one was out surfing.

Elbo Room on A1A also had a lively crowd, some donning rain jackets. The infamous Fort Lauderdale Beach bar announced yesterday it would remain open "as long as we can" and sell "Big Storm" beer for $2.

If you want to check out the waves (and stubborn beachgoers) from your couch, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has compiled links to beach webcams. — Brittany Shammas

4 p.m.As wind and rain picked up in South Beach, the Miami Hostel on Alton Road was still welcoming its usual mix of international guests. By Wednesday afternoon, the 105-bed hostel had 30 guests, and six more people, from Mexico, Australia, and Japan, had recently checked in.

“We thought they were going to cancel, but they showed up,” receptionist Adriana Nejia said.

In preparation for Hurricane Matthew, the hostel stashed chairs and tables inside empty rooms and allowed Macchialina, an Italian restaurant next door, to use its rooms to store outdoor furniture. Nejia said once the weather got bad, staff would make sure everyone was inside their rooms to wait out the storm.

“We understand the danger, but everyone is pretty relaxed,” she said.

Outside the lobby, a half-dozen guests watched hurricane coverage on a TV screen in the breezeway.

“We are not afraid,” said Christl Klepsch, who arrived in Miami Monday from Salzburg, Austria.

Julia Keller, a church friend traveling with Klepsch and another friend, Sieglinde Stark, said she’d been through a blizzard and other types of winter storms, but never a hurricane.

“We’re not used to this kind of preparation, nailing the windows and such,” Keller said. “In Europe, we have a lot of storms, but not like this.” — Jessica Lipscomb

3:30 p.m.: The entire barrier island town of Palm Beach was ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Matthew barreled toward the coastline, and for good reason — the National Hurricane Center warns of "life-threatening" storm surge in the area. 

So why are employees still at work outside Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's palatial estate on the island? When a New Times Broward-Palm Beach reporter tried to take a picture of the mansion from the road this afternoon, a security guard emerged and told her to leave.

3:15 p.m.
: Both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties are urging drivers to stay off the roads for the rest of the day because conditions from Matthew are expected to worsen. In fact, Broward "closed" all roadways in the county at 3 p.m. and urged anyone who hasn't evacuated yet to stay put. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, meanwhile, says 17,000 homes are now without power in the county.

2:15 p.m.: 
In the Alton Road area of South Beach, most businesses have closed for the day, including Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. The Alton Food Plaza, a small grocery and convenience store at Eighth Street and Alton, remained open Thursday afternoon and still had water, snacks, and beer.

“We’re here for our customers,” said one of the owners, Jomar Macedo.

The store planned to remain open through Thursday night, “until it gets really bad, sometime between 8 and 10 p.m.,” said co-owner Mainul Chowdhury. “We’re still pretty much packed, with lots of water, drinks, canned food, anything people might need.”

2 p.m.:
More than 12,000 homes are already without power around South Florida as Matthew's first feeder bands tear across the area. According to FPL's hourly updates, 7,150 homes in Miami, 4,150 in Broward, and 1,000 in Palm Beach have already been reported. You can find live updates on outages at FPL's website — assuming, of course, you still have power and internet access to check it out. 

1:15 p.m.: First Boat sat docked, with its riggers lowered, on the New River. Capt. Gil Pinkham was hurrying to get the gleaming, 90-foot yacht ready for the storm by covering outdoor furniture and making sure everything was put away.

He'd spent hours on the phone trying to find a place for it after its marina, Palm Harbor, kicked everyone out Tuesday.

"I was on the way to Miami when this came through," said Pinkman, a longtime captain. "I wanted to go south."

When the storm hits, he and his first mate will be watching from the bridge, where he noted there are 360-degree views. They're ready to go with cold cuts and beer.

"Bring it on, baby, bring it on," Pinkman said, smiling and shaking his fists. "Isn't that what George Clooney said when he was out there in The Perfect Storm?" — Brittany Shammas

12:45 p.m.:
Getting homeless residents into shelters before the storm hits is proving to be a real challenge across South Florida. In downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fernando Moran showed a reporter where he plans to ride out Hurricane Matthew: below the overhang at the Museum of Science & Discovery. Inside his bag, he had a couple of blankets to make the concrete more comfortable.

"There's nothing going to happen. I live 24 years in Florida. Hurricane Andrew, Katrina," he said, ticking them off on his fingers.

Yesterday, Fernando Moran's friend gave him a handwritten list of hurricane shelters for the homeless. He tucked it into the red-and-white rolling bag where he keeps all of his belongings, but he's not planning on going anywhere even though his friend left for a shelter and the police came to tell him that he should too.

Moran said he became homeless a year ago after losing a job in sales. Since then, he's stayed in downtown Fort Lauderdale on the banks of the New River, near the Broward Center and the nearly vacant Las Olas Riverfront. He said his Christian faith has kept him upbeat.

"Everybody asks me, 'How are you doing?'" Moran said. "I say, 'I am feeling good.'"

The downtown homeless community is tight-knit, and just about everyone has told him to take the bus to a shelter. The area beside the river was nearly empty, aside from Moran and a couple of others.

He's not worried. He'll walk over to 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee before settling in for the storm.

"It's not a problem," he said. "Maybe raining, maybe wind. How many years have you been here?" — Brittany Shammas

Noon: How did Miami Beach denizens prepare for Matthew? New Times sent photographer George Martinez out to meet the beachgoers catching the growing waves and the shoppers looking for last-minute supplies. See all of his pics here

11:45 a.m.:
Two City of Miami Police cruisers sat outside the homeless encampment near Jackson Memorial Hospital's Behavioral Health Clinic, where officers helped people find shelter.

But just a few miles south, in downtown, men and women still lined the streets waiting for help.

"I'm waiting for somebody to pick me up," a man who gave his name as "Jackie Robinson" said. He was sitting along a wall in front of a restaurant on NW First Street. "But I haven't seen anyone come yet. Push comes to shove, I'm gonna have to find me a hole or something to crawl into. I had a radio, but somebody stole it."

At least 15 other homeless men and women sat under awnings nearby. A few sat sleeping, while others wrapped their belongings in plastic bags. Robinson still had a hospital band around his wrist. — Jerry Iannelli

11:15 a.m.:
In some parts of Broward County, residents were told to place bulk litter out for pickup yesterday in advance of the hurricane — only for the city to then fail to pick it up. That could create a big problem in hurricane-force winds, because some swales are now chock full of heavy items that could turn into destructive missiles when the wind picks up. 

In Plantation Isles, which is in the hurricane warning zone, couches and huge piles of trash are still sitting curbside as the first squalls from Matthew race toward shore. 

11 a.m.: Matthew has now restrengthened into a Category 4 hurricane with sustained 140 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest update. "Some additional strengthening" could occur, the NHC says, but the storm should still be a Cat 4 as it approaches Florida. 

As for the storm's path, nothing has changed since the last predictions: Hurricane-force winds are still projected from Golden Beach all the way to Georgia as the storm moves north into Friday morning. Miami-Dade through the Keys remains under a tropical storm warning.

9:45 a.m.: For a hint at the pounding Florida is in store for tonight, check out the video being shot in Nassau right now by Kevin Bente, a storm-chasing meteorology student from the University of Miami. Here's his latest as the eyewall passes over the Bahamian capital. 

9:30 a.m.: Some Miami businesses are still catering to last-minute shoppers before the worst of the weather rolls in. Delivery services, in particular, are busy. While batteries and gallons of water have been flying off shelves, Miami-area delivery companies have been slammed with requests for hurricane supplies from people hoping to avoid the hassle of braving long lines at stores and gas stations.

GasNinjas, a local startup that delivers gas via an app, was hit with five times the normal requests Tuesday night. CEO Brandon Timinsky said the company's business model doesn't allow it to order extra quantities of fuel at the last minute, creating a situation where there was more demand from customers than there was gas to deliver to them.

In an email to customers Wednesday, the company apologized for not being able to keep up with the demand and said service will be discontinued until after the hurricane has passed.

Larger delivery companies were also bracing themselves to deal with requests for hurricane supplies. Postmates, which delivers takeout, groceries, and baby products, said it expects to continue operations.
"We'll deliver as long as it's safe and as long as cars are allowed on the road," spokeswoman April Conyers said. 

Amazon Prime Now, which delivers within two hours, has sold large quantities of water, snacks, and canned foods. Spokeswoman Amanda Ip said the company extended its normal hours Wednesday night to accommodate the extra orders. — Jessica Lipscomb

8 a.m.: Florida's long run of good hurricane fortune ends today. By early this evening, Hurricane Matthew's 130 mph winds, torrential rains, and massive storm surges will collide with the Florida coast, ending an 11-year streak without a major 'cane making landfall on the peninsula.

In Miami, Matthew's squalls are already swirling in off the Atlantic, bringing ominous skies and gusty winds. The real weather will kick up late this afternoon, though, when Matthew is expected to just skirt Dade before veering northwest toward a direct hit in the general area of Palm Beach.

New Times reporters are out on the streets from South Beach up through West Palm, and we'll udpate this story throughout the day with both the latest on-the-ground news and weather information from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

As of 8 a.m., NHC is sticking with the track it has predicted for Matthew for the past several days. A hurricane warning is in effect from the northern tip of Dade County up Florida's entire coastline. That warning has now extended straight up to Altamaha Sound in Georgia.

"Matthew is forecast to be a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches the east coast of Florida," the NHC reports.

Miami-Dade and the Keys remain under a tropical storm warning. Miami Beach and communities near the bay are likely to feel the brunt of Matthew's winds, which could gust to 75 mph tonight.

By last night, usual life in Miami was grinding to a halt. Tourists still wandered around Ocean Drive in South Beach, but hurricane shutters were being hammered into place at iconic spots around town:
Correction: Capt. Gil Pinkham's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.