Caribbean News Service
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sep 30 2016 – The Jamaica government is urging nationals to be prepared for the passage of Hurricane Matthew that was located 520 miles east south east of the capital on Friday.
“Government of Jamaica is on high alert for a hurricane expected to hit Jamaica. It is not panic mode it is preparedness mode,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a statement.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that the hurricane is continuing to strengthen over the South-Central Caribbean Sea and at 8.00 am (local time) had maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (mph).
“Matthew is moving toward the west-southwest near 14 mph. A turn toward the west is expected later today, and this westward motion with a decrease in forward speed are forecast through Saturday. A turn toward the northwest is expected Saturday night or Sunday,” the NHC said.
The Meteorological Service here has placed the country on high alert for the storm that is expected to hit the island between Sunday night and Monday morning.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Winston De La Haye is urging people to begin preparations in light of the expected impact of Hurricane Matthew.
“We are appealing to people to start the preparations such as securing clean water for storage. Water can be purified by boiling or adding small amounts of bleach. Persons with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and asthma must ensure that their medication is easily accessible especially in the event of the need for a quick evacuation,” he said.
Holness said that Hurricane Matthew comes at a time when the government is “on process to place the country on a path to economic growth”.
He said that the only way to mitigate any likely disaster is for Jamaicans to be prepared and urged parliamentarians to work with councillors checking gullies and drains and be ready to report back to government so that arrangements can be made to deal with any problem that might arise.
“In this instance, I’m urging all citizens to take it serious and prepare,” he said.
The NHC said that Matthew is expected to strengthen during the next 48 hours and could become a major hurricane later on Friday.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles,” it said, noting that 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,” it added.