Hurricane Matthew has strengthened into a Category 4 on October 1, with winds reaching up to 145mph, making its way towards Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, forecasters say.
Matthew is the strongest Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean since Felix back in 2007.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to hit Haiti and Jamaica on October 3.
Image source Wikipedia
Haiti has begun evacuating residents from high-risk areas.
Residents have been frantically stocking up on emergency supplies.
Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness has urged citizens to make all preparations before it is too late.
However, he told Reuters that Jamaica was prepared for the category 4 hurricane.
In Jamaica, the powerful storm is expected to bring up to 25 inches of rain, which could trigger life-threatening landslides and floods, according to forecasters.
In the capital Kingston, supermarkets were crowded with people looking for canned foods, water and flashlights.
Officials have warned the high winds could batter the country’s main tourist areas including Montego Bay in the north.
In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, residents from outlying islands have been evacuated, and officials have banned boating.
The hurricane is expected to cause up to 40 inches of rain in Haiti.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Cuba on October 4, potentially hitting the colonial city of Santiago de Cuba and the US Navy base of Guantanamo Bay.
A mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel, including about 700 family members of military personnel, was underway at the base and everyone remaining there was being told to take shelter, the Navy said in a statement.
There are about 5,500 people living on the base, including 61 men held at the detention centre.
Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to Santiago to supervise preparations.
Hurricane Joaquin has battered parts of the Bahamas with heavy rains and winds after it was reclassified up to the second strongest type of storm.
Sustained winds of up to 130mph were reported in parts of the eastern Bahamas, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The NHC says Hurricane Joaquin could affect the US East Coast by October 4, and said it was now an “extremely dangerous” storm.
Emergency teams said there were no reports of casualties in the Bahamas.
Forecasters in the US and the Bahamas are warning that central islands, many of which are low-lying, could see a storm surge of up to 12ft.
“We do not know the impact of 130mph on those areas,” Bahamas PM Perry Christie said.
“We know it’s a horrific kind of experience.”
Images on social media showed water reaching close to the roofs of some homes. The Tribune 242 website said dozens of people were trapped in their homes in the southern Bahamas.
After being classified only as a storm on September 30, Joaquin had become a Category Four hurricane – on a scale of five – by October 1.
The NHC said the storm could strengthen again as it nears the central Bahamas, but it is likely to lose strength as it moves north.
States along the eastern US coast – many of whom have suffered heavy rains in recent days – have warned residents to take precautions.
But the NHC, while warning the path of the hurricane could change, said it was “becoming optimistic that the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic states will avoid the direct effects from Joaquin”.
Meanwhile, the governors of New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and North and South Carolina declared states of emergency. One person was killed by flash floods in Spartanburg, South Carolina and schools in Charleston will be closed on October 2, local media reported.
Cuba has also issued warnings for four eastern provinces.
A White House spokesman said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was following the progress of Hurricane Joaquin and preparing in case it made landfall in the US.
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