Matthew on track to bring damaging wind, rain to Jamaica and Haiti

UPDATE: Please go here for an update to this story. 


UPDATE 9 p.m. Saturday: Hurricane Matthew is stationary, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, about 385 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

The Category 4 storm is expected to continue turning to the north overnight and, the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicts, the eye of the storm will pass between Jamaica and Haiti Monday afternoon.

Rains will likely begin over Jamaica and Hispaniola tonight and will likely create treacherous conditions, with serious threat from flash floods and mudslide.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew has regained some strength, with maximum sustained winds back up to 150 mph. Jamaica and Haiti are now under Hurricane Warnings as the massive storm is expected to pass between the islands Monday.

The storm has begun its turn to the northwest, moving slowly at 3 mph. Forecasters expect the storm will speed up as it moves north Monday.

With the models getting more precise as the storm gets closer, wind projections put the Sister Islands at a 10-percent chance of seeing sustained tropical storm force winds. Little Cayman and the Brac will likely see rough seas and some outer rain bands from Matthew.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned of the potential for “life threatening rainfall” in parts of Haiti, with 15 to 25 inches of rain predicted for the south of the country. Forecasters predict a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet along Haiti’s south coast. Jamaica could see a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet.

wv-animated-2Eastern Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba will likely see 10 to 20 inches of rain, according to the Hurricane Center.

Jamaica is preparing for the worst. Emergency management officials in Jamaica said they planned to open shelters today and urged people to follow evacuation notices, according to the Jamaica Observer.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported long lines at grocery stores and had photos of bare shelves at some stores.

UPDATE 2 p.m.: Hurricane Matthew has yet to make the anticipated turn to the north. Forecasters with the Miami-based National Hurricane Center revised earlier predictions and now don’t expect the storm to begin the turn to the north until Sunday.

Matthew has slowed significantly. As of the last update the storm was moving at 2 mph. “While Matthew has been moving erratically for the past couple of hours, overall the center has drifted southward at around 2 mph (4 km/h). A faster motion toward the west should resume later today,” the most recent advisory states.

The maximum sustained winds are 140 mph, in the middle of the Category 4 range, down from a high of 160 mph. For a short time, Matthew was a Category 5, the first in the Atlantic since 2007.

The Hurricane Center update predicts, “On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will move across the central Caribbean Sea today and Sunday, and approach Jamaica and southwestern Haiti Sunday night and Monday.”

The system is expected to bring substantial rain to Jamaica and Haiti. Forecasters predict Matthew could bring 10 to 15 inches of rain to the two countries as it passes between them.

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avn-l-2UPDATE 11 a.m.: The U.S. National Hurricane Center, in its most-recent update, said Matthew has weakened over the morning, now with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, down from it’s peak of 160 mph overnight.

The storm continues to move west as of the most recent Hurricane Center update. But, forecasters with the Miami-based center write, “A turn toward the west-northwest is forecast later today, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Sunday and toward the north on Monday.”

Forecasters expect Matthew to hit Jamaica and Haiti on Monday, with tropical storm conditions beginning as soon as late Sunday. Eastern Cuba could see hurricane conditions as soon as Monday night.

Much of Haiti’s coastline is now under a hurricane watch.


The latest as of 7 a.m.: Forecasters and Cayman’s emergency management personnel are watching Hurricane Matthew, a massive Category 4 hurricane, for the anticipated turn north today. The Sister Islands will likely see high winds and rough seas early next week as the storm passes to the north.

Matthew grew rapidly Friday, surpassing any predictions as the storm went from having maximum sustained winds of 75 mph Thursday to 160 mph Friday afternoon. The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded the storm from a Category 5 Saturday morning, reporting maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. That is 2 mph short of the Category 5 designation.

A cold front from the United States is expected to hit the storm today and overnight, turning it towards the north on a path over Jamaica and then eastern Cuba. All of Jamaica is under a hurricane watch and southeast Haiti has a tropical storm watch.wv-animated-1

If the storm stays on track, Grand Cayman will see little impact other than gusty winds and rough seas. The Cayman Islands National Weather Service, as of Saturday morning, warned boaters to be cautious in small craft Monday through Wednesday.

The Sister Islands will likely see rain and rough conditions as the storm passes within 240 miles of the Brac. The Weather Service issued a severe weather warning for Little Cayman and the Brac, and advised all boats to remain in safe harbor.

Showers on the Sister Islands could become heavy and lead to localized flooding, according to Cayman Islands Hazard Management. Winds there are expected to be north to northwest at 25 to 30 knots with higher gusts. Seas could be 7 to 9 feet and Hazard Management said there could be a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet.

The Miami-based Hurricane Center predicts 10 to 15 inches of rain across Jamaica, with some areas getting as much as 25 inches, prompting concerns of flash flooding and mudslides.

For a short time Friday and overnight, Matthew registered as a Category 5, making it the strongest storm since Felix in 2007.