UPDATED (1 p.m. Thursday): Matthew has strengthened into a hurricane, according to the most recent report from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft, with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center expects Matthew to strengthen during the next 48 hours.
UPDATED (10 a.m. Thursday): Tropical Storm Matthew is moving toward the west near 15 mph and packs sustained winds near 70 mph, according to the latest update by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Matthew is forecast to become a hurricane later today or tonight.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Interests along the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia should monitor the progress of Matthew. Swells are expected to affect portions of the coasts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
The NOAA’s 5-Day Forecast and Rainbow Color Infared have been updated below.
ORIGINAL (Wednesday 5 p.m.): The big storm spinning through the Eastern Caribbean was officially named Matthew Wednesday morning as winds topped 60 miles per hour and it continued to move west, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Tropical Storm Matthew was about 25 miles southwest of St. Lucia and moving west at 20 mph. Forecasters expect the system to slow its westward movement as it enters the eastern and central Caribbean.
Tropical storm-force winds are extending out from the center of the storm more than 200 miles.
Forecasters expect Matthew, the 13th named storm this year, to continue strengthening and turn into a hurricane by Friday morning with winds of at least 74 mph.
Projections from the Hurricane Center in Miami show the storm turning to the north over the weekend and passing directly over Jamaica, possibly as a Category 2 storm with winds as high as 105 mph.
John Tibbetts, director general of Cayman’s National Weather Service, said the storm could bring some rough weather to the islands early next week.
“The general consensus it that it will go over the top of Jamaica,” he said, but people should pay attention to forecasts because the Cayman Islands are still within the cone of Matthew’s potential path.
If the storm stays on track, Mr. Tibbetts said, Cayman could see weather similar to a Nor’wester, with rain and rough seas.
Forecasters say a cold front moving across the U.S. will push the storm north to Jamaica and then over Cuba.
On Wednesday, Matthew soaked the Windward Islands, with the Hurricane Center expecting 4 to 8 inches of rain there and in the southern Leeward Islands through Thursday.