Friday 20 October 2017

Hurricane Matthew leaves one million in US powerless

* Death toll rises to at least 842 in Haiti
* Obama warns of storm surge threat
* Mass evacuations in four U.S. states
* Jacksonville faces flood risk

The roof of a gas lays collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Nassau, Bahamas, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. The head of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Authority, Capt. Stephen Russell, said there were many downed trees and power lines, but no reports of casualties. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)
The roof of a gas lays collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Nassau, Bahamas, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. The head of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Authority, Capt. Stephen Russell, said there were many downed trees and power lines, but no reports of casualties. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

Over one million homes and businesses were without power Friday afternoon as Hurricane Matthew blasted Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina, electric companies said.

The outages are not as high as utilities had forecast and not expected to reach those levels because the storm has already passed most of the heavily populated southern part of Florida.

On Thursday, NextEra Energy Inc's FPL power company, the biggest in Florida, forecast Matthew could leave as many as 2.5 million homes and businesses without service, some for extended periods of time.

FPL said Friday afternoon it has already restored power to about 239,000 of the 923,000 affected by the storm, leaving about 685,000 still to be restored.

Saint Anne church lays totally destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Saint Anne church lays totally destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Matthew, the first major hurricane threatening a direct hit on the United States in more than 10 years, lashed Florida with heavy rain and wind, after killing more than 800 people in Haiti as it marched north through the Caribbean.

At 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), the center of Matthew was located about 60 miles (95 km) southeast of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Read More: Over 800 dead from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti as Florida coast hit with howling storms

 It was packing winds of 115 miles per hour, making it a powerful Category 3 hurricane as it heads north toward the Georgia and South Carolina coasts by early Saturday, the hurricane center said.

A religious statue lays broken in the rubble of the Saint Anne church, destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
A religious statue lays broken in the rubble of the Saint Anne church, destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

The NHC forecast Matthew would weaken into a tropical storm in about two days as it turns south on a track that would take it back over the Bahamas and Florida again by the middle of next week. With so many power outages, the state's utilities do not have to import as much natural gas as usual to generate electricity.

The amount of gas flowing into the state on the Florida Gas pipeline from Texas and Louisiana was expected to fall by about 800 million cubic feet per day on Friday from an average of 2.7 billion cubic feet per day over the past 30 days, according to Thomson Reuters data. The following lists outages at U.S. power companies neat Matthew's forecast path.

Reuters

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