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Hurricane Matthew weakens to Category 1; NC braces for major flooding


Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 1 storm, is bringing heavy rains to North Carolina that will leave the ground incessantly saturated Saturday. The entire viewing area is under a flash flood watch until Sunday morning.

ABC11 Meteorologist Steve Stewart said today will be a mess of a day. Matthew is packing winds of 85 mph and is crawling up the coast at 12 mph. Stewart says by 2 a.m. Sunday, Matthew should pull out to sea – but not before it soaks the area.

Here’s what you need to know as of Saturday morning:

  • Matthew is close to the South Carolina coast about 30 miles SSW of Charleston

  • Heavy rains are moving into central NC now and will continue most of the day

  • Rainfall amounts in the Triangle from 3 to 6 inches, and even more possible in the Sandhills

  • Flash flooding is likely and with the ground saturated, wind gusts between 40 and 50mph will cause trees to comes down

  • The likeyhood of power outages is increasing

  • Matthew will be leaving our coast overnight and tomorrow the sun comes out, but it will still be breezy

Rain amounts of 3 to 7 inches are possible across Central North Carolina as Hurricane Matthew moves closer. In addition, a Wind Advisory is in effect through Sunday afternoon. Central North Carolina could see wind gusts up to 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Hurricane Warnings have been extended to Cape Lookout. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for northern coastal counties.

WATCH: Hurricane Matthew’s strong winds slam Wrightsville Beach

A Tornado Watch is in effect until 4 p.m. for some coastal counties. Those counties include Brunswick, Carteret, Columus, Craven, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, and Pender.

The storm should continue to weaken during the day Saturday and Matthew will spin down to tropical storm strength by Sunday, Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann said Friday night.

The south coast of North Carolina could experience hurricane force wind gusts today, and winds could gust to 50 mph along the I-95 corridor and near 40 mph around the Triangle.

Flash flooding continues to be a major concern for Saturday, especially in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain.

“Please keep abreast of changing conditions and never try to drive through a flooded roadway,” Hohmann said.

Friday, President Obama approved Gov. Pat McCrory’s request for a federal disaster declaration for 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina.

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McCrory has said North Carolina will be offering resources to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

South Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency and ordered the evacuation of coastal communities.

However, McCrory said that he wouldn’t be moving any resources from our state in the event the hurricane changes course and takes aim at North Carolina.

Click here for ABC11 First Alert Doppler Hurricane Tracker

McCrory says the North Carolina National Guard and emergency equipment are being assembled, including high-water vehicles and swift-water rescue teams.

At Fort Bragg, soldiers are prepared to deploy on short notice if they are called to assist those who suffer from damage or other problems because of the hurricane.

Authorities say an elderly couple appears to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after Hurricane Matthew, raising the U.S. death toll from the storm to 4.

A post on the St. Lucie County Fire District’s Facebook page says rescuers responded to couple’s home Friday morning after neighbors found them not breathing. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where county spokesman Erick Gill says they later died.

Officials didn’t immediately naming the couple. Two women in Florida were also killed in separate accidents.

Be prepared: Emergency kit essentials for hurricane season

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered an evacuation of the entire Georgia coast, covering more than a half-million people. It was the first hurricane evacuation along the Georgia coast since 1999, when the state narrowly escaped Floyd.

WATCH: Chris Hohmann discusses the strongest side of a hurricane

With the hurricane’s approach, thousands of flight cancellations to and from Florida have been reported across the country, including at Raleigh Durham international.

In Raleigh, Derrick Remer, Emergency Management & Special Events Manager with the City of Raleigh said crews are on standby ready to work through the weekend on 12-hour shifts, on the go 24 hours if needed. While the city is still watching and waiting, they’ve already started conversations with power crews and other emergency operations.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is also warning residents about scams connected to Hurricane Matthew.

RELATED: North Carolina officials warning residents about Hurricane Matthew scams

WATCH: Chris Hohmann explains how hurricanes are categorized

Meanwhile, Duke Energy is on alert as they track the storm’s path. They say they’re preparing for a major power outage event.

The state’s largest energy provider hasn’t had to prepare for this kind of potential storm, in some time.

The Red Cross is also urging residents in Eastern North Carolina to be prepared.

“The better prepared folks are, the safer they will be should Hurricane Matthew impact our coastline,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “The Red Cross encourages residents to build a kit of necessities, ready their homes, and make a plan with their families.”

The ABC11 Weather Team will keep you updated with the latest.

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