"This storm will kill you."
That's the message officials in South Carolina and Florida are trying to get across to residents potentially in the path of the storm. Matthew was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane by the National Hurricane Center on Thursday after it tore through Haiti, destroying homes and leaving at least 100 people dead in its wake.
It's now making its way toward the United States.
"Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate," urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "This storm will kill you."
"This is not hype," said Bryan Norcross, hurricane specialist for the Weather Channel. "This is not hyperbole, and I am not kidding. I cannot overstate the danger of this storm."
At 5 p.m. ET Thursday, Matthew was just 100 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, barreling toward the Florida coastline with 140 mph winds. Experts said there was a possibility of eight-foot storm surges.
Nine counties in Florida, accounting for 1.5 million people, are under mandatory evacuation orders. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are under voluntary evacuation orders, though those who live in mobile homes are strongly advised to do evacuate.
Despite the strength of the storm, officials say they're concerned residents are not taking the evacuation orders seriously.
"People do not seem to get it and are not leaving," William D. Snyder, sheriff of Martin County — one of the counties under mandatory evacuation — told NBC News. "I asked my captain of detectives if he had body bags, because if we get 140 mile-per-hour winds in mobile-home parks, we are going to have fatalities."
Evacuation orders were also in place in parts of South Carolina and Georgia. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered the evacuation of about 500,000 people in the state, and even reversed the eastbound lane on Interstate 26 so that all lanes of traffic were headed inland, out of Charleston.
Station cameras captured new views today of massive Hurricane Matthew. Matthew was moving through the Bahamas as a Category 4 hurricane. pic.twitter.com/ARD2odlCcQ
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) October 6, 2016
The extent of the damage depends on whether the storm stays on its current course. The National Weather Service explained that if the hurricane deviates slightly, it could prevent some of the most powerful winds from reaching shore.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida on Thursday, giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security the go-ahead to coordinate their relief efforts.
If Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Florida, it will be the first hurricane to do so since 2005.