Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A hurricane watch has been issued for part of the South Carolina coast, in advance of Hurricane Matthew's expected influence on our weather by the weekend.

The watch was issued late Wednesday night and is in effect from the Georgia-South Carolina border all the way to Edisto Beach in Colleton County. A watch means hurricane-force winds are possible in that region in the next 48 hours.

Matthew currently has maximum sustained winds of 115 miles an hour, and was moving to the northwest at 10 miles an hour.. The storm appears to be intensifying, as it is getting a better defined eye around its center.

The storm is expected to track across the Bahamas most of Thursday. It then will turn its sights on Florida, where it could either scrape along the coastline or push into the interior of the state. At present, it appears as if it will be the first major hurricane (defined as a Category 3 or higher) to hit the U.S. mainland in a decade.

The models then have the storm turning to the north-northeast, eventually drifting near the South Carolina coast. The consensus track then turns the storm again toward the northeast, away from South Carolina. However, that turn isn't quite as sharp as it was in earlier runs.

Despite some shifts back and forth from the east to the west, we currently believe the overall effect on the South Carolina coast will remain the same: that is, Matthew will bring tropical storm to hurricane force winds along the coast, and the area is at great risk for flooding. As you get into the interior--and we're talking about the Midlands now--the effects will be less. The computer models are showing light to moderate rain across the region, with the possibility of gusty winds.

News19 Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy says I-95 will be the barrier: anything south of that line will get the greatest effects, while north of the line will get less.

The timing of the storm appears to be most of the day Saturday, although we could see some of the effects from the storm by Friday night.

As always, it's important to note that these projections will likely shift more over the next few days--that's the nature of these forecast models, especially since there are still so many variables out there that could case the track to shift. For that reason, all residents along the coast of South Carolina and inland for about 150 to 200 miles should continue to monitor this storm's progress closely.

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