The tropical system named Matthew became this year's fifth Atlantic hurricane early Thursday afternoon, and forecasters expect it to make a northward turn over the next few days.
Forecast models suggest it could be somewhere off or along the mid-Atlantic coast by the end of next week.
Matthew had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph at its core as of 2 p.m. The storm was centered in the Caribbean Sea several hundred miles south of Puerto Rico.
By Saturday, forecasters predict it will turn northward toward Jamaica and Cuba, potentially reaching the Bahamas by Tuesday.
It's too early to predict its track beyond that, but forecasting models suggest it could make its way up the Atlantic coast. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va., which covers Ocean City and the lower Eastern Shore, said the storm poses some "uncertainty" in the long-term forecast.
Most models suggest Matthew won't make landfall in the U.S., though some have it coming ashore somewhere between Ocean City and Boston. Many call for it to hug the coast, though.
"Possible tracks range from a storm riding up east of the Atlantic coast to the eastern Gulf of Mexico, along the Florida west coast," AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski wrote. "At this time, a track east of or close to the U.S. Atlantic coast is more likely but that could change."