FLORIDA, United States, Thursday September 29, 2016 – Tropical Storm Matthew is nearing hurricane strength as it makes its way across the Eastern Caribbean, posing future danger to Jamaica, the Bahamas, parts of Hispañola and eastern Cuba.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said in its 11 a.m. advisory that reports from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicated that maximum sustained winds were near 70 miles per hour with higher gusts, and gradual strengthening was expected, with Matthew forecast to become a hurricane later today or tonight.
At 11 a.m., the storm was 290 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving toward the west near 15 miles per hour. A tropical storm watch continues for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao which are expected to start experiencing tropical storm conditions later today.
Forecasters say Matthew should make a northwest or northward turn in the Caribbean Sea sometime this weekend.
According to the Weather Channel, the critical details regarding when exactly that turn is made, how sharp it is, and Matthew’s intensity at that time will dictate the impacts for Jamaica, Hispañola, and eastern Cuba. While there is still some uncertainty, it said impacts could begin in Jamaica and Hispañola – particularly Haiti – as soon as Sunday night, and in eastern Cuba next Monday.
Beyond that, Matthew is likely to begin impacting parts of the central or southeast Bahamas by Tuesday. As for the immediate forecast, the NHC said rainfall associated with Matthew will begin to diminish across the Lesser Antilles this afternoon, with additional amounts of an inch or less expected.
Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches with isolated higher amounts are expected over Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao through Saturday. Swells generated by Matthew are expected to affect portions of the coasts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia during the next few days, the NHC said, warning that those swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.