Image: Tropical Storm Matthew forecast to be history by Sunday. Photo courtesy; Palm Beach Post
By Robert Sandiford
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Reuters) – The Caribbean’s Windward Islands and Barbados braced for strong winds and rain expected from Tropical Storm Matthew on Wednesday and forecasters said the 13th cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic season could reach hurricane force later this week.
Matthew was located between the Windward Islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia, packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (95 km/h), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
“Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next couple of
days, and Matthew could become a hurricane by Friday” before possibly turning towards Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, the Miami-based center said.
In Barbados, which is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands and rarely suffers major storms, schools, courts and businesses closed on Wednesday.
Public transport was suspended and stores were full of shoppers stocking up on canned goods and batteries in preparation for the first big storm since 2010.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados, St. Vincent, and the Grenadine Islands, the Hurricane Center said.
It warned that expected rainfall of up to 8 inches (20.32 cm) could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in some areas.
(Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Tom Brown)
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