Hurricane Matthew moves closer to Haiti
KINGSTON – A meandering Hurricane Matthew was slowly drifting towards southwestern Haiti and Jamaica, but remained a powerful storm on Sunday capable of causing widespread damage in the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has placed the nation “on high alert” adding that the national disaster mechanisms have all been activated.
“The Jamaica Constabulary Force, Fire Brigade and the Jamaica Defence Force are all ready to assist where necessary. Our Disaster Preparedness Committees have had several meetings to determine the best way to deal with this dangerous weather event,” he said in a broadcast.
In Haiti, the authorities have evacuated people in low lying areas particularly from outlying islands and officials have banned boating.
In its 11 a.m. bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the hurricane, which at one time was the strongest storm in the region since Hurricane Felix in 2007, was about 350 miles south, south west of Port Au Prince and 310 miles south, south east of Kingston.
It has maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (mph) and a hurricane warning remains in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas.
The cone contains the probable path of the storm centre, but does not show the size of the storm. Hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.
A hurricane warning is also in effect for Turks and Caicos Islands, while a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti.
The NHC said that interests elsewhere in Hispaniola and in the Bahamas should monitor the progress of Matthew, which is drifting toward the west near three mph.
“A turn towards the northwest is expected later today, followed by a turn toward the north tonight. On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday,” the NHC said, adding that there would be some fluctuations in intensity for the Category 4 storm “during the next couple of days, but Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Monday night”.
It said that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles
“Hurricane conditions are expected to reach Jamaica and Haiti on Monday, and eastern Cuba Monday night. Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach Jamaica and Haiti this evening, and eastern Cuba early Monday, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. Tropical storm conditions are expected along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic within the warning area by tonight,” the NHC said, adding that hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch areas by late Tuesday with tropical storm conditions possible by early Tuesday.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 25 inches over southern Haiti, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 40 inches.
“Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over eastern Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches. This rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides,” NHC warned. (CMC)