Hurricane Matthew strengthened to a Category 4 on Friday evening, and it continues to rapidly strengthen.
The storm poses a danger to Jamaica, parts of Hispañola, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas early next week.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said government services have been placed on high. Thursday, fishermen on Jamaica’s cays and banks were advised to evacuate immediately and return to the mainland.
Packing wind speeds of 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour, the storm moved in a western direction about 465 miles southeast of Jamaica.
The hurricane watch issued for Jamaica indicates that hurricane conditions are possible by Monday.
Over the next couple of days, Matthew should continue to move west or just south of due west as it rides the southern periphery of the Bermuda high.
Sometime on Saturday or early Sunday, Matthew should make its long-anticipated northwest or northward turn in the Caribbean Sea, as the system reaches the southwestern edge of the Bermuda high.
The critical details regarding when exactly that turn is made, how sharp it is, and Matthew’s intensity at that time will dictate the impacts for Jamaica, Hispañola, and eastern or central Cuba.
Unfortunately, there is still some important forecast uncertainty regarding those important details, which is common for a tropical cyclone forecast several days out. Phases of rapid intensification like the one experienced by Matthew on Thursday and Friday only hamper efforts to gain a better handle on the forecast.