Tropical storm Matthew strengthened to hurricane force on Thursday after leaving one dead and causing widespread flooding and landslides as it slowly made its way across the Eastern Caribbean on Wednesday evening.
Officials in St. Vincent and the Grenadines confirmed that a fourth form secondary school student was crushed by a boulder during Matthew’s passage. Barbados, Dominica and Saint Lucia also reported flooding from the hours of rainfall. There were reports of some damage to property from gusty winds and fallen trees, and several communities experienced cuts in their electricity and water services.
The prime minister of Curacao, Dr. Bernhard Whiteman, announced in a press conference late Thursday that the general elections due to take place on Friday will be postponed until Wednesday, October 5. This decision was made after consulting with political parties and other stakeholders.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Thursday, the center of Matthew was located about 150 miles (240 km) north-northeast of Curacao, moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/h). A westward to west-southwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the next couple of days. Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km).
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and the Colombia/Venezuela border to Riohacha. Interests elsewhere along the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia, and in Jamaica, Hispaniola, and eastern Cuba should monitor the progress of Matthew.
Tropical storm conditions are possible in Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba on Thursday night and Friday. Tropical storm conditions are possible over portions of the watch area in Colombia beginning Friday.
Rainfall associated with Matthew will continue to diminish across the Lesser Antilles during Thursday evening. Isolated additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible over the southern Windward Islands. Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches with isolated higher amounts are expected over Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao through Saturday.
Swells generated by Matthew are expected to affect portions of the coasts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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