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Matthew now a powerful category 4 hurricane

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

Matthew now a powerful category 4 hurricane

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A HURRICANE WATCH has been issued for Jamaica after Hurricane Matthew rapidly gained strength this afternoon.

At 5 p.m. the eye of the system was located near latitude 13.5 North, longitude 71.6 West. 

Matthew is moving toward the west-southwest near 9 mph (15 km/h).  A westward motion at a slower forward speed is expected tonight and Saturday. 

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said a turn toward the west-northwest is forecast by Saturday night, followed by a turn toward the northwest on Sunday. 

On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will move north of the Guajira Peninsula tonight, move across the central Caribbean Sea on Saturday, and be near Jamaica on Sunday.

Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 km/h) with higher gusts. 

Some additional strengthening is possible tonight, and some fluctuations in intensity are possible Saturday and Sunday. 

Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Sunday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).