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Matthew strengthening over the Bahamas, nears Florida

Thursday, October 6, 2016 2:41
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(Before It's News)

Hurricane “Matthew” has left a trail of destruction in Haiti and Cuba and is now moving over the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph). The hurricane is intensifying and is expected to reach Category 4 status as it approaches the east coast of Florida on Thursday, October 6, 2016. Nassau, the capital of Bahamas, is expecting the eye of Matthew to reach the city around 12:00 UTC today. First effects in Florida are already being felt and the eye should reach the coast by the end of the UTC day.

At 06:00 UTC on October 6, Matthew’s center was located about 480 km (295 miles) SE of West Palm Beach, Florida and 160 km (100 miles) SSE of Nassau, the capital of Bahamas (population 244 400).

Matthew is moving toward the NW at 17 km/h (10 mph) as a Category 3 hurricane while intensifying.

Its estimated minimum central pressure was 954 hPa.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track by NHC at 06:00 UTC on October 6, 2016

Hurricane Matthew forecast track by NHC at 06:00 UTC on October 6, 2016

Matthew’s eye is expected to pass between Andros Island and New Providence, dangerously close to Nassau around 12:00 UTC on October 6, then just south of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island around midnight on October 7. 

At this time, its eye is expected to be located just 90 km (56 miles) SE of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Right now, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 75 km (45 miles) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 280 km (175 miles).

Tropical storm conditions are fist expected in Florida within a couple of hours.

More than 1.5 million Floridians are currently in evacuation zones, Florida Governor Rick Scott said yesterday. “Storm impacts will begin Thursday morning in our state.” 

“There is still time to evacuate. Get out now if you are in an area with evacuations. If you make a decision not to leave before the storm, we cannot send someone to save you because you made a bad decision. Don’t wait until you lose power. You need to leave before it is too late.”

Hurricane Matthew at 07:45 UTC on October 6, 2016

Hurricane “Matthew” at 07:45 UTC on October 6, 2016. Credit: UW-CIMSS

Matthew made a direct hit on Haiti at 11:00 UTC on Tuesday, October 4 near Les Anglais in western Haiti with maximum sustained winds of 230 km/h (145 mph) and gusts to 278 km/h (172 mph). 

Haiti is now facing the largest humanitarian event since the devastating M7.0 earthquake of 2010.

Wednesday still didn’t show the full extent of the damage as assessments have only just begun because of the weather conditions and lack of access.

According to the information gathered by OCHA/UNDAC during an aerial observation mission, hurricane Matthew has severely affected the south part of Haiti, especially the departments of Grand Anse and South, where the wind produced severe damages. A bridge in the town of Petit Goave has collapsed cutting off road access from Port-au-Prince to the south and preventing fast assistance to the affected communities. 

According to the available information by the Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) as of early October 5, Matthew has made a human toll of 5 deaths in Haiti, 1 missing persons, 10 wounded, more than 15 000 people evacuated, 1 855 houses flooded, 500 houses very damaged, 348 houses destroyed and the hospital of Jeremie affected.

At least 11 municipalities were victims of flooding in coastal areas in the Grande Anse, Nippes and South departments. Towns of les Cayes, Torbek and Acquin were heavily flooded, according to UNICEF.  Early reports from first mobile team suggest 70% of houses damaged, but figures are very preliminary.

In total 15 623 displaced people throughout the country were brought in 152 shelters. 2000 children have been reportedly evacuated from residential centers.

Early on October 6, Reuters reported the death toll in Haiti has reached 22, bringing the total to 26.

Cubans were mostly ready for the storm and there were no reports of casualties, but Matthew destroyed everything in its path after making landfall near the town Juaco around 00:00 UTC on October 5.

The famous town of Baracoa, one of the country’s oldest and most historic towns, was hit especially hard with many of the houses destroyed. Initial reports from the city mention complete destruction.

Featured image credit: Hurricane “Matthew” at 07:45 UTC on October 6, 2016. Credit: UW-CIMSS

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