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Haiti and Jamaica prepare for category four Hurricane Matthew
Published on October 3, 2016Email To Friend    Print Version

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

Hurricane Matthew approaching Jamaica on Sunday afternoon

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA -- Preparations were underway in Haiti and Jamaica on Sunday in anticipation of the approach of the powerful category four Hurricane Matthew on Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, the interim president of Haiti, Jocelerme Privert, accompanied by several ministers and civil protection officials gave a press conference announcing the closure of schools on Monday and Tuesday. Government offices are, however, expected to remain open.

Jamaicans were boarding up on Sunday in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew
In Jamaica, the ministry of education also ordered that schools should be closed on Monday. On Saturday, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) moved the activation of the National Emergency Operation Centre to level 2. The highest level of activation is Level 3, which was expected to commence on Sunday.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Sunday, the centre of Hurricane Matthew was located about 320 miles (520 km) south-southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti, and about 270 miles (435 km) south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving toward the northwest near 5 mph (7 km/h). A turn toward the north was expected Sunday night.

On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph (230 km/h) with higher gusts. Matthew is a category four 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 into Tuesday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km).

A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, Haiti and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas. A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey, Southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Ragged Island and the Turks and Caicos Islands. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Puerto Plata westward to the border with Haiti. Interests elsewhere in Hispaniola and in The Bahamas should monitor the progress of Matthew.

Hurricane conditions are expected to reach Jamaica and Haiti on Monday, and eastern Cuba on Monday night. Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach Jamaica and Haiti on Sundaynight, 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 Sunday night. Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch areas by late Tuesday with tropical storm conditions possible by early Tuesday. Tropical storm conditions are also possible in the tropical storm watch area in the Dominican Republic by late Monday.

Storm clouds gather over Jamaica
Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 25 inches of southern Haiti and the southwestern portion of the Dominican Republic, with possible isolated amounts of 40 inches. Across eastern Cuba and western Haiti total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are expected, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches. Across eastern Jamaica total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches is expected, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible. This rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches over the southeastern Bahamas, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches and total rain accumulations of 2 to 5 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches over the Turks and Caicos Islands. Lower amounts are expected across the northeastern section of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with amounts ranging from 1 to 3 inches with isolated amounts around 5 inches. Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are expected over western Jamaica. Additional rainfall of 1 to 2 inches is expected over northern Colombia through Sunday.

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 -- 3 to 5 feet; Gulf of Gonave in Haiti -- 3 to 5 feet; southern coast of the Dominican Republic -- 1 to 3 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 Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, eastern Cuba, and the Caribbean coastline of Central America during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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