- Hurricane Matthew started hitting Florida early this morning with heavy rain and strong winds
- Powerful storm claimed at least 340 lives in Caribbean earlier this week
- The hurricane raised fears for two nuclear reactors, Cape Canaveral and Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort
- Experts say there is very little risk of a repeat of the Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011
Hurricane Matthew has passed over Cape Canaveral and is heading north, with winds battering two nuclear power stations and Donald Trump's luxurious Mar-a-Lago resort.
Cape Canaveral was last hit by a major storm in 2005 when it was battered by Hurricane Wilma.
But since then the Space Shuttle program has shut down and the Kennedy Space Center is nowadays leased out by Nasa to private users like Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass close to Port St Lucie nuclear power station (pictured) but safety experts say it will not suffer a meltdown like Fukushima in Japan in 2011
The storm arrived on shore on Friday north of Palm Beach County, which has a population of 1.4 million people, and the National Hurricane Center predicted it would push along the Interstate 95 corridor towards Jacksonville.
The St Lucie nuclear reactor was right in the storm's path while Turkey Point in southern Florida was also affected by high winds.
The Department of Energy said: 'Some reactors were shut as a precaution to protect equipment from the storm; others were forced to shut down or reduce power output due to damage to plant facilities or transmission infrastructure serving the plant.'
Hurricane Matthew has traveled across the Bahamas and is now heading up Florida's east coast
Weather conditions around Cape Canaveral are rapidly deteriorating
The calm before the storm: This was Cape Canaveral earlier this week. Now it is being battered by winds of 74mph
But nuclear experts say there is no danger of a disaster of the sort seen in Japan in 2011 when the Fukushima nuclear power station went into meltdown after being hit by a tsunami.
Hurricane Matthew also passed close to the Mar-a-Lago Club resort, owned by Trump.
After the 2004 Hurricane Frances, Trump told the Palm Beach Post: 'We lost a lot of the vegetation that gave Mar-a-Lago its character. I've been told by my people there that it re-landscaped the place.'
Amtrak has suspended train service between Miami and New York, and cruise lines rerouted ships to avoid the storm, which in some cases will mean more days at sea.
Billy Conley lifts a piece of plywood to place over a window at a business near Cape Canaveral in Florida as Hurricane Matthew approaches
Donald Trump owns the Mar-a-Lago Club (pictured), which is directly in the path of Hurricane Matthew
The 'once-in-a-lifetime' storm is the most powerful hurricane to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade and could be the most catastrophic to hit the north and east of Florida in 118 years.
The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore, but Matthew's wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline and 26 million Americans.
Government officials declared a state of emergency in several states in an effort to plan ahead since the deadly Category Three storm is expected to wreak havoc with its 120mph winds.
Two million people across the Southeast have been warned to flee inland as tens of millions along 500 miles of coastline battened down the hatches.
The powerful storm is expected to move up the coast and it will gradually lose speed but the winds will still be as high as 105mph on Saturday morning
As of 2am on Friday, tropical storm-force winds had already been impacting Florida's east coast. The storm was 45 miles east of Vero Beach, Florida at 2am with winds of 120mph moving northwest at 14mph
THE MOST DEVASTATING HURRICANES IN US HISTORY
Hurricane Katrina - 2005, left 1,800 people dead and was the costliest storm in U.S. history with damage estimated at $108 billion. It was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall over Louisiana.
Hurricane Charley - 2004, hit Florida and then moved onto South and North Carolina. The Category 4 storm was blamed for at least 21 deaths and leaving thousands homeless. The total U.S. damage was estimated to be near $15 billion.
Hurricane Andrew - 1992, was a Category Four storm that left an estimated 250,000 homeless and caused more than $20 billion in damage in the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana. Fifty-five people were killed.
Great New England Hurricane - 1938, killed around 700 people when it raked the region as a Category Three storm and wiped out railroad tracks, utilities, homes, crops and the fishing industry, according to the National Weather Service.
Great Okeechobee Hurricane - 1928, struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, leaving more than 2,500 dead. Lake Okeechobee overflowed, causing disastrous flooding that inundated several communities.
Galveston Hurricane - 1900, made landfall in Texas, with winds estimated to be at least 130 miles per hour and a storm surge of a whopping 15 feet. Some 8,000 people died, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says damage estimates exceeded $20 million at the time — roughly $700 million in today's dollars.
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