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Florida ports close ahead of Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew's projected five-day track (Source: National Hurricane Center)
Florida ports are battened down for Hurricane Matthew. PortMiami, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port Canaveral and Port of Jacksonville are all closed.

On Thursday morning the storm was approaching Andros Island in the Bahamas and outer rain bands were nearing Florida. A hurricane warning remains in effect for the central and northwestern Bahamas. The warning for the southeastern Bahamas was discontinued.

On the US East Coast, a hurricane warning extends from just north of Miami (Golden Beach, Florida) to Altamaha Sound, Georgia.

Matthew, which killed at least 108 people in Haiti, according to news reports, is currently a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph/205 km/h), with higher gusts. The National Hurricane Center said additional strengthening is expected today, and Matthew is forecast to become a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Florida.

'This is a serious storm and the protection of people and property is our primary concern,' Port Canaveral ceo John Murray said earlier in the week. 'We expect high winds and storm surge throughout the port and have urged the port community to prepare their facilities so business can resume as quickly as possible after the storm.'

Port Canaveral has not shut down operations due to severe weather since the 2004 storms when the harbor was closed for 11 days to ship traffic.

With PortMiami closed on Thursday and expected to reopen on Friday, Royal Caribbean International's Empress of the Seas will now depart on Friday. Embarkation will take place as soon as notice is received from PortMiami authorities. To compensate passengers for the missed day, Royal Caribbean will provide each stateroom with an on-board credit in the amount of one day based on the cruise fare paid plus a 25% future cruise credit.