Major Hurricane Matthew poses severe risk to lives in Caribbean
By By Renee Duff, meteorologist
October 05, 2016, 2:07:59 AM EDT
This story has been updated. In a moment you will be taken to the latest information on Matthew's impact in the Caribbean.
Major Hurricane Matthew will pose severe risks to lives and property across Jamaica, eastern Cuba and Haiti by unleashing flooding rain, destructive winds and an inundating storm surge through Tuesday.
After tracking westward across the Caribbean Sea this past week, Matthew, currently a Category 4 (major) hurricane, made a turn to the north-northwest on Saturday night.
Matthew will continue to travel northward and make an approach to Haiti and eastern Cuba while passing very close to Jamaica as well early this week.
After moving away from the Caribbean, Matthew threatens to approach the US East Coast during the middle and latter half of this week.
Jump to: Matthew to remain a major hurricane into midweek | Jamaica, eastern Cuba, western Haiti brace for life-threatening impacts | Matthew to barrel into the Bahamas early this week | Latest statistics on Major Hurricane Matthew
Matthew is the second major hurricane of the season, following Gaston from August. On Friday night, Matthew briefly became the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007.
While Matthew is no longer a Category 5 hurricane, residents in its path should not let their guard down. Matthew is forecast to remain major hurricane strength through midweek.
"This is a dangerous system and there is a significant threat to life and property for all areas in the vicinity of it," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
As Matthew slowly moves to the north, hurricane conditions are expected across Jamaica, Haiti and eastern Cuba through Tuesday before eventually spreading into the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Tuesday night into Thursday.
Matthew is a powerful storm and will bring life-threatening conditions for places in its path.
"Wind damage is expected to be widespread, and in western Haiti, far eastern Cuba, and near the system in the Bahamas it may be catastrophic," Duffey said.
There will be sustained damaging winds in excess of 80 mph (130 km/h) with gusts over 100 mph (160 km/h). Widespread power outages, tree damage and flooding can also be expected.
Residents and vacationers across the region need to heed all warnings and make sure to stock up on enough bottled water and non-perishable food items in case the power is out for days. Loose outdoor items should be secured or brought inside to prevent them from becoming deadly projectiles.
“Rainfall amounts well in excess of 15 inches (381 millimeters) will occur in these areas, resulting in life-threatening and catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides, especially in Haiti and eastern Cuba," Duffey warned.
Mountainous areas have the greatest chance of having rainfall over 2 feet (610 millimeters).
A severe inundating storm surge will accompany the rain and wind, threatening to further flood coastal communities.
"Storm surge will exceed 10 feet in the worst hit exposed areas," Duffey said.
Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo Bay could bear the brunt of the life-threatening impacts of Matthew.
"Conditions will become bad in Kingston, Jamaica, but the city should escape the worst impacts," AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Miller said. "There can be sustained winds to 80 mph (130 km/h), gusts to 100 mph (160 km/h) and rain amounts of 5-10 inches (120-250 mm)."
Matthew will take a track just west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and will bring damaging winds and flooding rainfall to the city.
Even well away from the storm's center, flooding rain could fall across the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
“Tropical moisture from Matthew will enhance squalls across the southern coasts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, including in Santo Domingo,” Miller said. “Three to 6 inches (75 to 150 mm) of rain and localized flooding will be possible.”
Weather conditions and seas will gradually subside from south to north across the Caribbean toward the middle of the week as Matthew tracks northward through the Bahamas.
All cruise ships, fishing vessels and shipping interests should avoid the area until Matthew moves away.
The mountainous terrain of eastern Cuba may weaken Matthew below major hurricane status before reaching the Bahamas. However, Matthew will continue to pose hazards to lives and property across the island nation by unleashing damaging winds, flooding rain, dangerous seas and coastal flooding on Tuesday night through Thursday morning.
Matthew already turned deadly as it tracked through the Windward Islands earlier in the week.
Matthew gained strength over St. Vincent with heavy gusts and several inches of rain, killing one person. A 16-year-old boy died when a boulder dislodged from the storm and crushed him against a house on Wednesday night, St. Lucia News Online reported.
Content contributed by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
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