New Orleans is being hit with what is being described as a Category 4 storm, the third major hurricane to hit the state since the end of the winter.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a Category 3 storm warning for New Orleans and New York, and Hurricane Matthew is currently a Category 2 storm.
“A significant and possibly catastrophic event is underway with winds of 50 to 70 mph, with a minimum sustained wind of 65 kph, and sustained gusts of 40 to 50 kph,” the NHC said in its most recent update on Matthew.
“A series of damaging winds are expected to cause life-threatening flooding in New Orleans, with isolated areas being at risk of catastrophic storm-related damage.”
“A major storm surge and coastal flooding is possible inland of the city,” it said.
“There is a high likelihood that a large area of coastal New Orleans could be inundated with seawater.”
Hurricane Matthew’s winds are currently at least 30 kilometres per hour, according to the National Hurricane Centre.
“The most immediate concern is the possibility of severe flooding with sustained gust of up to 60 kph.”
The NHC warned that Matthew would hit the southern half of New England on Saturday, bringing heavy rains, flash flooding and flash hail.
“It’s a very large storm with a high probability of intensifying into a major hurricane,” it warned.
“Matthew is forecast to track north of the eastern seaboard of the United States, potentially making landfall in New York state on Sunday.”
“As of 1:00pm on Saturday morning, the NWS is issuing severe storm warnings in New England, with winds gusts to 50 mph.
These severe warnings are in place to help ensure the protection of residents and businesses in areas impacted by this storm,” it added.”
These severe warnings continue until approximately 3:00am on Sunday morning, when a system may develop into a tropical storm.”
If this system does develop into an Atlantic hurricane, Matthew will become a major threat in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with maximum sustained winds of 100 kph.
“For a full list of the storm warnings, visit the NSC’s storm watch page.”