Hurricane Matthew — the most powerful Atlantic tropical storm since 2007 — is on a path of destruction heading towards Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and possible the United States according to forecasters.
“This is shaping up to be a devastating blow, especially to places like Haiti and Cuba,” said Domenica Davis, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.
The category four hurricane has the potential to deliver over 40 inches of rain and at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, Matthew sustained winds near 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 3, 2016
Forecasters say the storm is expected to pass east of Florida through the Bahamas, although it is too soon to say whether it will hit the US coast.
Haitian officials say that about 1,300 emergency shelters have been constructed across the country, sufficient to accommodate 340,000 people. Both airports in Haiti are closed.
Warnings have been broadcast over the radio urging people to pay attention to evacuation warnings, especially because some people are expected to try to stay in their homes to protect them from damage.
The National Hurricane Center called Matthew “extremely dangerous,” and conditions look favorable for it to maintain its strength, said Michael Lowry, a hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel.
“It’s kind of a resilient hurricane — it hasn’t really wavered much in terms of its strength,” Lowry said Sunday night. “It’s a little bit unusual to go 48 hours with a category 4 or 5 hurricane and not to see some sort of fluctuation.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has urged Floridians to take Hurricane Matthew very seriously, labeling the storm “catastrophic” and urging residents to be prepared.
Scott said: “If it hits our state, we could see impacts that we have not seen in many years.”
You can get live updates about Hurricane Matthew here.