Hurricane Matthew leaving heavy rain, flooding along Georgia coast

Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 2 storm Friday afternoon as it started to have an impact on the Georgia coast.

The storm skirted the coast of Florida throughout Friday and has yet to make landfall.

We have a team of reporters up and down the coast bringing you the latest Hurricane Matthew on Channel 2 Action News Saturday AM starting at 6 a.m.

Currently, Matthew is packing sustained winds of 105 mph, with gusts up to 125 mph. It is moving north and will turn northeast during the overnight hours at about 12 mph.

Severe Weather Team 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said the storm will create quite a storm surge as it comes up along the Georgia coast.

“It will move very close to Savannah and Hilton Head as we get near 2 a.m. overnight tonight, with winds of 105 mph,” Burns said. “Most of those winds will stay offshore.”

The storm will continue along the coast, getting very close to Charleston as a Category 1 storm around 8 a.m. Saturday, with sustained winds of around 90 mph.

“I do believe we’re going to see a tremendous amount of wind and wave action. Combine that with some unbelievable rainfall totals,” Burns said.

Matthew will move onto Wilmington, North Carolina, around 8 p.m. Saturday evening. Sustained wind speed will decrease to 80 mph.

The storm will then move out to sea, weakening as it becomes a tropical storm around 8 a.m. Sunday.

Already, many areas of Florida and the southern coast of Georgia have seen storm surge flooding from Matthew.

“The storm surge is the rise of the ocean level. The waves are on top of that,” Severe Weather Team 2’s Brad Nitz said.

Meteorologist Glenn Burns said as of 11 p.m., the barrier islands in Georgia had already seen a 6- to 9-foot rise in the ocean level.

“The flooding looks to be the greatest threat with this storm,” Nitz said. “There is the possibility of increased wind damage."

Burns says the 6-9-foot surge will be reduced by west and northwest winds by Saturday afternoon.

Hurricane-force winds were near the Georgia coast around 11 p.m. Friday, skirting the area around St. Simons.

Tropical-storm-strength winds will affect all of the coast as the storm passes throughout the evening.

Burns said parts of the Georgia and South Carolina coast could see 10-15 inches of rain.

BRUNSWICK

The roads are largely deserted in parts of southeast Georgia that's taken a pounding by Hurricane Matthew.

That includes the Brunswick area, where a curfew goes in effect at midnight and police warned those who did not evacuate conditions are too dangerous for rescuers to respond to calls.

The driving rain continued into the night, leaving those who evacuated to a higher and dryer location -- like Frederick Moses and Renaya Wilcox -- wondering what the weekend will bring.

"We're just hoping for the best and expecting the worst, you know you've got to ready for anything," Moses told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.

Some already know Matthew's damage will be devastating. Waters flooded a popular waterfront restaurant overlooking the marshes between Brunswick and St. Simons.

Austin Wells sent the owner video of the flood and said he was shocked.

"It’s been great he hasn't had any major trouble until this storm and hopefully he'll get through it," Wells said.

Matthew pushed tropical storm force winds off the ocean into Brunswick throughout much of the day, shoving the ocean surge into town.

Police closed off three main routes around the coast, and stopped patrolling by mid-afternoon as more and more roads flooded or were blocked by trees.

Nighttime became even more dangerous, and left those who had left wondering what they'll find.

SAVANNAH

Savannah’s mayor said they successfully evacuated 75 percent of the city before Hurricane Matthew roared in.

Channel 2’s Richard Elliot is in Savannah where he reported late Friday evening that conditions had severely deteriorated.

Torrential rain and howling winds roared through the nearly deserted streets of Savannah Friday night.

Elliot said as he drove through town, he found whole neighborhoods plunged into darkness because of power outages.

He made a quick stop at Savannah's emergency operations center as they tried to assess the oncoming storm.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said 25 percent of the city decided to ride out the storm at home.

DeLoach warned them they may be on their own for a while.

“We want to make sure they understand that they need to get into a safe place. They need to take care of themselves. We won't be able to get to them tonight,” DeLoach told Elliot.

Elliot said as he tried to drive toward Tybee Island, he didn't get far before he encountered a flooded road and was pelted by heavy rain.

He found a submerged car along President’s Parkway, the road that leads from Savannah to Tybee Island. The driver had abandoned it and headed for dry ground.

Savannah City Councilman Bill Durrence told Elliot he's worried about downed trees and high winds, but the thing that still scares him the most is storm surge.