The storm is threatening the eastern coast of the U.S.

By Jess McHugh
October 04, 2016
Credit: NOAA via Getty Images

Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm that made landfall in Haiti early Tuesday morning, began moving northwest toward the eastern U.S. coast Tuesday afternoon, as the U.S. state department issued travel warnings for the Caribbean and parts of Florida.

The hurricane—the first to make landfall in Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964—hit the island with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. The storm caused major damage, and at least two people on the island have died.

“This is the worst storm Haiti has seen in decades and the damage will no doubt be significant,” Marc Vincent, UNICEF's representative in Haiti, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Waterborne diseases are the first threat to children in similar situations—our first priority is to make sure children have enough safe water.”

After the hurricane moved on to Jamaica, where the damage was minimal, the U.S. state department advised residents to avoid all non-essential travel to the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The storm was tracking toward southeastern Florida, and is expected to hit the mid-Atlantic states by the weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch from Titusville to Boca Raton, Florida Tuesday.

Southwest airlines extended its travel advisory to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), West Palm Beach (PBI), Orlando (MCO), Tampa (TPA), Ft. Myers (RSW), and Jacksonville (JAX) in Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) Tuesday evening.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley began evacuating residents from the coastline Wednesday in preparation for the storm.

Evacuations were underway in parts of Florida, as four port Canaveral cruise ships have rerouted from their Florida base to avoid the hurricane. Those included three Royal Caribbean ships and the Disney Dream, Florida Today reported.

“Prepare for the worst,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned.