Jamaica, Cuba brace for Hurricane Matthew as the Category 2 storm lashes Aruba, Bonaire

Jamaica, Cuba brace for Hurricane Matthew as the Category 2 storm lashes ABCs

ORANJESTAD — A strengthening Hurricane Matthew whipped at Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao early Friday as it passed north of the islands on a rare track 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.

Matthew is expected to turn north on Saturday and head toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti as a major hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. It grew into a Category 2 storm early Friday with maximum sustained winds near 165 km/h and forecasters said it could become even stronger before reaching Jamaica early Monday.

Matthew was centred about 210 kilometres northeast of Punta Gallinas in Colombia and 840 kilometres east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, Friday morning. It was moving west-southwest near 22 km/h.

Hurricane-force winds extended out for 75 kilometres and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 295 kilometres.

Get travel news right to your inbox!