University and college campuses located near the Atlantic Ocean across the U.S. East Coast have announced temporary closures until the end of the week in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.

This past week, the Category Four hurricane left devastation in its wake after it tore through the Caribbean, killing hundreds in Haiti, and it appears that the states of Florida through to North Carolina will be badly affected.

According to a briefing overview released by the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Florida, the storm surge will be “much larger” than Hurricane Sandy, which was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane to hit the U.S. in 2012.

In its latest advisory as of 11.15am local time, the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Matthew is predicted to downgrade to Category 3 by the time it reaches Jacksonville at about 8pm on Friday local time with wind speeds of 120 miles (193 kilometers) per hour.

However, experts are hoping that the hurricane’s path will shift to the east and stay offshore. 

Coastal areas are being evacuated, causing high volumes of traffic as 1.5 million people flee the danger zones.

In a press conference, Florida Governor Rick Scott told residents: “You need to leave. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

According to Inside Higher Ed, these are some of the colleges which have officially announced closures and evacuations (with some closing only Friday – see links for details): Bethune-Cookman UniversityBroward CollegeCollege of CharlestonEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityFlorida Atlantic University, Jacksonville UniversityMiami-Dade CollegeSavannah State UniversitySeminole State CollegeUniversity of Central Florida, University of FloridaTrident Technical CollegeUniversity of South CarolinaUniversity of North Carolina at WilmingtonUniversity of North Florida.

Some universities are also providing shelter for students to ride out the storm, as thousands of households are reporting power outages.

To all students in affected areas, please stay safe and keep yourselves updated on the latest alerts issued by your university or government officials!

Image via Associated Press

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