Hurricane Matthew thrashed the coast of Florida Friday with ferocious winds and rain, kicking off what was expected to be a devastating march up the Southeast after a deadly spree across the Caribbean.
The storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane overnight after decimating Haiti, where the death toll rose Friday to more than 800, according to Reuters. NBC News could not immediately confirm that number.
Despite weakening, Matthew still packed dangerous wind gusts of up to 120 mph Friday morning, hammering the Florida shoreline and cutting off power to more than 800,000 residents.
Instead of following the worst-case-scenario path that meteorologists had feared, Matthew stayed some 100 miles away from South Florida, sparing the 4.4 million people in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from its havoc.