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Haiti braces for life-threatening wind and rain from Hurricane Matthew
Published on October 4, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

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

Hurricane Matthew visible satellite image on Monday. NOAA image

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA -- The centre of powerful category four Hurricane Matthew was expected to approach southwestern Haiti on Monday night, bringing with it 140 mph winds and torrential rains of 15 to 25 inches, and as much as 40 inches in some areas.

Coastal flooding was already reported in some areas of Haiti and evacuation of residents of vulnerable communities had commenced.

The airports of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien are closed from Monday at 6:00 am until Wednesday at 6:00 am. All incoming and outgoing flights have been cancelled.

Jamaicans were warned to expect torrential rainfall from Hurricane Matthew over the next two days, which could exceed 15 inches in the eastern end of the island.

There have been reports of flooding in several areas of the island, which remained under a hurricane warning.


Heavy rain ahead of Hurricane Matthew brought flooding to areas of Jamaica on Sunday

A hurricane warning has been issued by the Bahamas department of meteorology for the central and southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).

Governor of the TCI, Peter Beckingham, on Monday signed an order requiring the evacuation of the remote island of Salt Cay, due to the risks of flooding and wind damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, and the potential for loss of life and injury to persons on the island.

Residents of Salt Cay were ordered to evacuate immediately or in any event by 5 pm on Monday.

Residents were asked to make their own plans to leave the island; however, in addition to plans by residents, the government will be assisting residents with evacuation by boat and airplane.

The government of The Bahamas also began evacuations from islands likely to be impacted by the hurricane.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Monday, the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located about 140 miles (225 km) south of Tiburon, Haiti, and about 225 miles (360 km) southwest of the capital Port au Prince.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma, and Las Tunas, the southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Ragged Island, the Central Bahamas, including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Cat Island.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Dominican Republic from Puerto Plata westward to the border with Haiti. Interests elsewhere in Hispaniola and The Bahamas should monitor the progress of Matthew.

Matthew was moving toward the north near 7 mph (11 km/h) and a northward motion at a faster forward speed is expected through Tuesday night. A turn toward the north-northwest is forecast on Wednesday. On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti on Monday night, move near eastern Cuba late Tuesday, and move near or over portions of the southeastern and central Bahamas on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 140 mph (220 km/h) with higher gusts. Matthew is a dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are possible during the next couple of days, but Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Wednesday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km).

Hurricane conditions are expected to first reach Haiti on Monday night, eastern Cuba on Tuesday, the southeastern Bahamas late Tuesday, and the central Bahamas on Wednesday. Tropical storm conditions were expected to continue spreading across Haiti on Sunday evening, reach eastern Cuba on Monday night, the southeastern Bahamas early Tuesday, and the central Bahamas Tuesday night, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Tropical storm conditions were also expected in portions of Jamaica and along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic within the warning area. Hurricane conditions are possible in the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday, with tropical storm conditions possible on Wednesday. Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch areas in Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Islands by Tuesday night with tropical storm conditions possible on Tuesday.

Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall amounts in the following areas: southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic -- 15 to 25 inches, isolated 40 inches; eastern Cuba and northwestern Haiti -- 8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches; eastern Jamaica -- 5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 to 20 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 Dominican Republic -- 1 to 3 inches, isolated 5 inches; Western Jamaica -- 1 to 2 inches. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in southern and northwestern Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba.

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: southern coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz -- 7 to 11 feet; south coast of Haiti -- 7 to 10 feet; northern coast of Cuba east of Camaguey -- 4 to 6 feet; Jamaica -- 2 to 4 feet; Gulf of Gonave in Haiti -- 3 to 5 feet; southern coast of the Dominican Republic -- 1 to 3 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.

Swells generated by Matthew will continue to affect portions of the coasts of Hispaniola, Jamaica, Aruba, Colombia, eastern Cuba, and the Caribbean coastline of Central America during the next few days. Swells from Matthew will begin affecting portions of The Bahamas on Tuesday. These swells are likely to cause life- threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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