Hurricane Matthew weakened slightly but still remained a dangerous Category 4 hurricane early Saturday as it barreled through the Caribbean, on target to approach Jamaica late Sunday and potentially impact the U.S. east coast next week.
En route, it also threatens Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas into Monday.
As of 8 a.m. ET, Matthew had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph — just 2 mph shy of the Category 5 status it reached Friday. It was moving to the west at 7 mph and was located about 400 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.
The National Hurricane Center said Matthew was expected to turn toward the west-northwest later Saturday followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Sunday.
A hurricane watch has been posted for Jamaica and a tropical storm watch was issued for portions of Haiti..
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno said if Matthew moves swiftly as it heads north, it has a greater chance of causing significant impact from rain, wind and flooding along much of the Atlantic coast.
“On the other hand, if Matthew’s forward speed slows, it could still have significant impact on the Atlantic coast, but in a much smaller area, when compared to a fast-moving hurricane,” he said.
The hurricane center’s five-day forecast cone — which marks the range of the storm’s possible path — includes a portion of southeastern Florida early Wednesday.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) October 1, 2016
The hurricane center also warns of likely life-threatening surf and rip-current conditions over a wide area from Puerto Rico to Venezuela.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said government services have been placed on high alert, according to the Jamaica Observer newspaper. Thursday, fishermen on Jamaica’s cays and banks were advised to evacuate immediately and return to the mainland.