(MIAMI) -- Hurricane Matthew gained strength over the Caribbean Sea on Friday, and with its eye beginning to form became a major category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 mph. This is the second major hurricane in Atlantic Basin in 2016.
The hurricane is on path to travel west-by-southwest through the central Caribbean on Friday afternoon and to retain its strength as a major hurricane, the National Hurricane Center showed.
By early Sunday morning, Matthew is forecast to begin to turn north toward Jamaica, with sustained winds that could be as high as 120 mph with even stronger gusts. A Hurricane Watch was issued for Jamaica, a Tropical Storm Watch for eastern Haiti, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the border of Columbia and Venezuela.
Matthew is expected to make landfall or come close to Jamaica early Monday morning. On Monday night, the eastern part of Cuba could see a direct hit from Matthew with damaging winds, flooding rain and large waves.
"As Matthew moves over Cuba it will lose some strength due to the friction with the land mass," ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo said. "As it re-emerges north of Cuba in the Bahamas it could regain its strength back."
"At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida, and only a few models have it hitting Florida by the middle of next week," Golembo said.
Matthew developed very quickly from a tropical wave into a tropical storm with sustained winds of 60 mph around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The only other storm that has done this was Hurricane Debbie in 1961, Golembo said.
As Matthew moved over the eastern Caribbean, it brought wind gusts from 50 mph to 60 mph from Dominique to St. Lucia and Barbados. Heavy rain of up to 3 inches fell on the islands, producing landslides and flash flooding. Landslides were so severe that one person was killed by a boulder in St. Vincent.
Matthew became a hurricane at 2 p.m. on Thursday and as it moved west Thursday night, it strengthened into category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts up to 120 mph.
At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida and only a few models having it hit Florida by the middle of next week. Because of the uncertainty of the long range forecast, we should all be watching for the track of the storm.
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