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Bahamas residents urged to evacuate coastal areas
Published on October 6, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

Hurricane Matthew three-day forecast track. NHC/NOAA graphic

Home and business owners throughout New Providence in The Bahamas took precautionary measures on Tuesday to ensure their property and contents are secured as the island prepared for the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA -- As the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Matthew started its approach toward The Bahamas, Prime Minister Perry Christie urged residents on the southern coast of all islands to consider evacuating to higher ground.

“The best advice that I have received is that if you live on the southern coast of any of our islands, including New Providence, I’m advised that you may be exposed to significant risks,” said Christie during a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Matthew is expected to impact all Bahamian islands, including New Providence, which was expected to be hit directly beginning late Wednesday night, The Nassau Guardian reported.

Many islands in The Bahamas face inundation as Matthew pushes through, with a storm surge up to 15 feet possible in some locations.

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade also called on residents in low-lying areas to leave as soon as possible.

“We are not intending to frighten you, but if you are intending to help yourself and your families, this is the time now to make a decision to move,” he said. “Call a relative that lives inland New Providence or any other place in The Bahamas that is a higher ground from where you are living.”

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located about 205 miles (325 km) south-southeast of Nassau, moving towards the northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h). This motion is expected to continue during the next 24 to 48 hours. On this track, Matthew will be moving across The Bahamas on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Matthew is expected to remain at category 3 or stronger while it moves through The Bahamas.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

A hurricane warning is in effect for:

• Southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Ragged Island

• Central Bahamas, including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Cat Island

• Northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence

Hurricane conditions will continue over the central Bahamas and spread into the northwestern Bahamas on Wednesday night and Thursday. Winds will gradually diminish over the southeastern Bahamas on Wednesday night.

Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall amounts in the following areas:

Eastern Cuba... 8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Central Cuba... 3 to 5 inches, isolated 8 inches
Western Haiti... additional 2 to 4 inches, isolated storm totals of 40 inches
The Bahamas... 8 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches
Turks and Caicos Islands... 2 to 5 inches, isolated 8 inches
Northeastern Haiti and the northern Dominican Republic... 1 to 3 inches, isolated 5 inches

Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely in southern and northwestern Haiti and central and eastern Cuba.

Rainfall was expected to diminish across Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday evening.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large and destructive waves could raise water levels by as much as the following amounts above normal tide levels:

Northern coast of Cuba east of Camaguey... 4 to 6 feet
The Bahamas... 10 to 15 feet

Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. Large waves generated by Matthew will cause water rises to occur well in advance of and well away from the track of the centre.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

Swells generated by Matthew will continue to affect portions of the north coast of Cuba and The Bahamas during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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