PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The Latest on Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole (all times local):
Forecasters say the eye of powerful Hurricane Matthew has now moved north of eastern Cuba.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew is currently a Category 3 hurricane packing winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and is centred about 35 miles (60 kilometres) north-northwest of the eastern tip of Cuba.
Matthew is moving toward the north at about 8 mph (13 kph) and a turn toward the north-northwest is expected later Wednesday. It is also about 80 miles (130 kilometres) west-southwest of the Bahamas’ Great Inagua Island.
The hurricane centre says that Matthew will be moving across the Bahamas through Thursday and is expected to be very near Florida’s Atlantic coast by Thursday evening.
Forecasters say that while winds have decreased a bit, some fluctuations in Matthew’s intensity are expected but that it remains a powerful and dangerous storm.
The eye of Hurricane Matthew has moved off the northeastern coast of Cuba and forecasters have expanded the hurricane warning area in Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 130 mph (215 kph) but it is expected to maintain strength through at least Thursday night. Matthew is moving north at 8 mph (13 kph).
Forecasters expect Matthew to move through the Bahamas on Thursday and be very near Florida’s east coast by that evening.
The centre upgraded hurricane watches from Golden Beach to Sebastian Inlet and for Lake Okeechobee to hurricane warnings. The hurricane watch area has been extended north to the Flagler-Volusia county line.
Officials in coastal Hyde County, North Carolina, have issued a state of emergency and ordered the mandatory evacuation of visitors to Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Residents and property owners on the island will have an additional 24 hours to make preparations before they, too, will be subject to a mandatory evacuation Thursday.
Ferries to and from Ocracoke Island will run as scheduled Wednesday and Thursday, but not on Friday.
Forecasters say the eye of Hurricane Matthew has made landfall near the eastern tip of Cuba.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 4 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) and is moving north at close to 9 mph (15 kph). The centre predicts 8 to 12 inches of rainfall for eastern Cuba.
By Tuesday evening, 20-foot waves had started pounding the seafront promenade of Baracoa and powerful winds tore ceramic tiles off the corners of some roofs.
So far, at least 11 deaths have been blamed on the powerful storm during its weeklong march across the Caribbean.
Out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Nicole has changed little in strength and still poses no threat to land. Nicole is about 510 miles (820 kilometres) northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has maximum sustained winds near 50 mph (85 kph) and is moving northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).
A United Nations official says Hurricane Matthew has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010.
Deputy Special Representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba says in a statement that many people have been forced from their homes and communications systems have been knocked out in the country’s hard-hit southwestern peninsula. He says at least 10,000 people are in shelters.
Wahba says officials have received reports of destroyed houses and overflowing hospitals, with shortages fresh water. He also says the hospital in the city of Les Cayes had its roof blown off.