MIAMI : Hurricane Matthew rapidly gained powerFriday, escalating to a powerful Category 4 storm as it moved over the open Caribbean sea just south of Jamaica, US forecasters said, reports BSS.
Packing wind speeds of 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour, the National Hurricane Center called Matthew “extremely dangerous.” The agency said fluctuations in intensity could occur but “Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Sunday.”
The storm moved in a western direction about 440 miles southeast of Jamaica, where a watch indicated hurricane conditions could arrive by Monday.
Tropical storm warnings were issued for parts of coastal Colombia on Friday, with Haiti also bracing for tropical storm winds and rain. Haitian authorities were focusing preparation efforts on the southern islands of the country, whose residents the government called the “first at risk.”
“We invite them to secure the area surrounding their homes and begin to stock up on water and food,” Edgar Celestin, a spokesman for the Haitian civil protection agency, told AFP.
Haiti was expecting the largest rainfall and wind gusts to come Saturday and Sunday.
Matthew became a Category 1 hurricane on Thursday afternoon, the lowest on a 1-5 scale, then swiftly rose to Category 4 a day later.
Forecasters said 10-15 inches (25-38 centimeters) of rain could fall across Jamaica and on southern Haiti.
Isolated areas could be lashed with up to 25 inches of rain, risking life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.
Ocean swells with the potential to cause dangerous currents and rip tides are also possible over the next two days in coastal regions of Puerto Rico,Venezuela, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.