Tropical Storm Matthew five-day forecast track. NHC/NOAA graphic
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA -- As expected, Tropical Storm Matthew formed early Wednesday as the system moved through the Windward Islands into the eastern Caribbean, bringing heavy rains and high winds and forcing the closure of government offices and schools in several islands.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT Wednesday, the centre of Matthew was located about 65 miles (110 km) west of Saint Lucia and about 480 miles (775 km) east-northeast of Curacao, moving toward the west near 18 mph (30 km/h).
On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will move away from the Windward Islands through Wednesday evening, and be over the eastern and central Caribbean Sea through Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is expected during the next couple of days, and Matthew is forecast to become a hurricane by Friday. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) primarily to the northeast of the centre.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Interests along the coast of Venezuela and Colombia should monitor the progress of Matthew.
Tropical storm conditions were expected to continue through Wednesday evening over the southern Leeward Islands and northern Windward Islands within the warning areas. Tropical storm conditions are possible in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, beginning late Thursday.
Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches across the Windward Islands and southern portions of the Leeward Islands through Thursday. These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches are expected farther to the north into the northern Leeward Islands, including the US and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected over Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao through Friday.