Watches issued for Florida as Hurricane Matthew churns north

CAIRA BEACH, Haiti -- Hurricane Matthew made landfall Tuesday morning in Haiti as a dangerous Category 4 storm with winds of 145 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As Hurricane Matthew churned toward Cuba, the National Hurricane Center issued advisories for parts of the Florida coast. A hurricane watch extends from Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard county line. And a tropical storm watch has been issued from the central Florida Keys northward to Deerfield Beach.

Hurricane Matthew's 'eye'  is forecasted to remain offshore, although its impact extends 250 miles out from the center of its circulation.  It is expected to arrive late Thursday and early Friday.

The Carolinas are already feeling the effects of building ocean swells, with long range forecasts indicating an early Saturday impact.

Several non-profit organizations are already on the ground in Haiti and surrounding areas to help those affected by the storm.

CARE will provide hygiene kits, clean water containers, blankets, and tarps to residents. It's already providing meals at several shelters.

Catholic Relief Services is working with the Haitian government to relocate residents to secure shelters. CRS will also provide water purification kits, tents, kitchen kits, and cash so people can purchase critical items.

Operation Blessing International will provide chlorine tablets to hospitals, schools, orphanages, and residents to help purify water. Along with other organizations, it will also provide tarps for damaged buildings. Additionally, Operation Blessing International has a rescue boat ready. The group has also converted its schools into shelters.

The storm is expected to strike Cuba next, and may impact the eastern coast of the United States -- including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina -- later this week.
>Will Hurricane Matthew hit the US?

It's too soon to know exactly where Hurricane Matthew will be in a few days, or how hard it will hit the United States.

But the storm's latest track shows it making a westward turn toward the US East Coast. And officials in several states in that region say they're not taking any chances.

"If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven't seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "That is why we cannot delay and must prepare for direct impact now."

Scott declared a state of emergency for his entire state. And North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency for more than half of the counties in his state.

The potential threat was enough for Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, to fire off a warning to Americans.

"U.S. East Coast: find out today if you live in an evacuation zone," Knabb tweeted. "If so, decide where you'd go, how you'd get there if told to go."

Florida residents will likely see tropical storm and hurricane watches later Tuesday morning, forecasters said.

The "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane made landfall in western Haiti Tuesday morning with winds of 145 mph, according to the hurricane center.

CNN forecasters predict the storm could hit parts of Florida starting Thursday night.