More than 1.5 million people were without power and hundreds of flights were grounded as Hurricane Matthew came ashore Saturday in South Carolina, rapidly losing strength along the way.
Matthew remained a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour as it churned over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after coming ashore near McClellanville earlier, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said at about 2 p.m. New York time Saturday. It’s forecast to continue moving north along the coast before heading back to sea and ending up near North Carolina later in the day.
Matthew has weakened after laying waste to Haiti, where it left hundreds of people dead. About 878,907 homes and businesses were in the dark in Florida, down from 1.1 million earlier, and roughly 673,000 had lost power in coastal Georgia and North and South Carolina. The storm roiled markets for everything from natural gas to hogs to orange juice as traders bet on the extent of supply disruptions. Insurers escaped greater damages that would have occurred with a direct hit to Florida.
“The northern half of the Georgia coast and the southern half of the South Carolina coast will have historic or near historic storm surge,” Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said. “Probably the most expensive impacts of the storm are still coming.”
Matthew may have caused $4 billion to $6 billion in insured damage to homes and buildings in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, according to CoreLogic Inc. , a property analysis firm in Irvine, California.
Total losses will be closer to $25 billion to $35 billion, placing Matthew among the top 10 costliest storms in U.S. history, Enki Research catastrophe modeler Chuck Watson said.
At its current strength, Matthew barely meets the definition of a hurricane. If its winds fall below 74 mph, it’ll become a tropical storm.
Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.’s Universal Studios were reopening amusement parks after shutting them earlier in the week. Cruise lines were still rerouting some voyages and canceling stops, according to the website CruiseCritic.com.
Across the U.S., about 1,000 flights were canceled Saturday, most originating from the U.S. Southeast, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company. Airlines and railroads across the Southeast were beginning to resume operations Saturday.
Tyson Foods Inc. had shut a plant in Jacksonville, Florida, and Kinder Morgan Inc. closed fuel terminals, a diesel and jet fuel pipeline and a liquefied natural gas terminal near Savannah, Georgia.
Twelve U.S. power generators, including two nuclear plants, were in the storm’s path, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. NextEra Energy Inc. shut its St. Lucie reactor in Florida ahead of the storm.
Cotton and peanut crops were most at risk from heavy rains, David Streit, senior lead forecaster at Bethesda, Maryland-based Commodity Weather Group LLC said. The extent of damage to Florida’s oranges and grapefruit “may not be known for days,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of Florida’s Department of Citrus.
Bonds tied to weather risks fell the most in four years, with the Swiss Re Cat Bond Price Return Index dropping 1.7 percent this week. It was the steepest decline since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.