Published: 2016-09-30 11:21:00
Updated: 2016-09-30 14:52:30
Posted September 30, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — A strengthening Matthew became a major hurricane Friday morning as it pushes through the southern part of the Caribbean.
At 2 p.m., Matthew had sustained winds of 120 mph as it moved west-southwest through a part of the Caribbean that rarely sees such storms.
Authorities on the Dutch Caribbean islands had urged residents to reinforce their homes and stock up on emergency supplies. Some streets flooded on Aruba and Curacao in the early hours of the storm's pass-by, though there were no reports of evacuations.
Matthew's approach prompted long lines at gas stations and supermarkets on the so-called "ABC islands." Authorities in Aruba ordered government offices closed Friday and Curacao's parliamentary elections were postponed until next week.
The hurricane also was headed for a brush with the Colombia-Venezuela border area near the Maracaibo oil region on Friday.
Forecasters say Matthew's westward trek is expected to slow later Friday afternoon or evening and that a turn toward the west-northwest is forecast by Saturday night. The storm is then expected to further turn toward the northwest by early Sunday while churning across the central Caribbean.
WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said the storm could impact the Bahamas by the middle of next week before moving up the East Coast.
"It's still to early to know whether Matthew will have a major impact on North Carolina, but it's a storm we'll be closely watching through next week as it progresses northward," he said.
Matthew caused at least one death when it entered the Caribbean on Wednesday, with officials in St. Vincent reporting a 16-year-old boy was crushed by a boulder as he tried to clear a blocked drain.