Matthew has slowly strengthened into a strong tropical storm with winds up to 70 mph. Rainfall will gradually dissipate across the Windward and Leeward islands this afternoon with up to an additional inch expected. As Matthew continues moving westward across the Caribbean Sea, heavy rainfall totaling between 1-2 inches will fall on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao into the day on Saturday. Additionally, wind gusts up to 60 mph are possible on these islands starting late Thursday afternoon and continuing into Friday.
Matthew will continue to move westward across the southern Caribbean into the weekend, then make a turn toward the north. Despite warm water, light to moderate wind shear will prevent Matthew from strengthening significantly over the next 24-48 hours, but only slight strengthening will bring Matthew to hurricane strength and this is possible by tonight or Friday. It is important to note that there remain vast model differences as to when a turn to the north will take place and how sharp it will be and, as such, the track of Matthew beyond Saturday remains highly uncertain. However, it appears as though Jamaica, Haiti and eastern Cuba should prepare for hurricane conditions later this weekend.
Elsewhere across the Atlantic, there are no imminent threats for tropical development.
Updated By AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve C. Travis