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Though still offshore, Hurricane Matthew expected to cause billions of dollars in damage

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Though still offshore, Hurricane Matthew expected to cause billions of dollars in damage

Hurricane Matthew is skirting the eastern coast of Floridawithout making landfall, but analysts still say the storm could cause billionsof dollars in damage.

"Very preliminary" figures estimated by RMS andpublished by The Insurance Insider projecta 41.9% chance of a $20 billion loss for the insurance industry as a result ofthe storm. The firm estimates an 86% chance that the loss will be greater than$5 billion.

"If history is any guide, there is the potential thatinsured losses could be even higher than initial estimates," GaryMarchitello, head of property broking at Willis Towers Watson, said in anemailed statement.

Gov. Rick Scott in a pressconference held shortly after 9 a.m. ET said more than 600,000 Floridacustomers were withoutpower across the state.

The storm is now a Category 3 hurricane with maximumsustained winds at 120 mph, according to an 11 a.m. ET advisorynotice issued by the National Hurricane Center on Oct. 7. The hurricane'scenter was about 35 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla., as of 11 a.m.ET, the National Weather Service wrote in a separate advisory.

Though the storm's eye has not crossed over the shoreline,hurricane-force winds extend about 60 miles from the center. Cape Canaveral andDaytona Beach have reported wind gusts of 97 mph and 67 mph, respectively, the NationalHurricane Center said. St. Augustine, Fla., reported a gust of 69 mph,according to the 11 a.m. ET advisory.

The storm is forecast to continue following the coastline,but specifying whether or where it could make landfall is "verydifficult," the National Weather Service division wrote.

"Only a small deviation of the track to the left of theNHC forecast could bring the core of a major hurricane onshore within thehurricane warning area in Florida and Georgia,"the weather service said.

That warning area now extends from Cocoa Beach, Fla.,through Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.,and all the way to Surf City, N.C.

A storm surge of seven to 11 feet above ground level couldoccur if the surge hits during high tide between Sebastian Inlet, Fla. andEdisto Beach, S.C., an area that runs roughly from Melbourne, S.C., to justsouth of Charleston, S.C.

One person has died in St. Lucie County, Fla., as a resultof the storm, according to ABC News.