The Category 5 Hurricane Matthew continues moving across the Caribbean, and is scheduled to smash into the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by Tuesday evening.
Hurricane Matthew reached Category 5 status in the early hours of Saturday morning, becoming the first to do so since Hurricane Felix in 2007. At its peak that day, Matthew’s 160 miles-per-hour winds were as powerful as Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which is rated as “the most destructive storm in the U.S. modern history.” However, the storm weakened in the last 24 hours to a still-ferocious Category 4 storm, with winds of up to 150-mph winds.
As the most ferocious Atlantic hurricane in almost a decade, the double-eyed Matthew is set to hit land at the Southern tip of impoverished Haiti on Tuesday morning.
With Hurricane Matthew moving at a 6 mile-per-hour clip, the U.S. National Weather Service expects the storm to dump an average of between 15 to 25 inches of rain on Haiti, with as much as 40 inches in some areas.
“This rainfall will produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the National Weather Service warned on Sunday, “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
Civil protection officials throughout the Caribbean are broadcasting warnings of a coming storm surge, stating that southern low-lying areas will be “highly threatened” from the approaching storm system and urging people to prepare emergency survival kits.
According to the US National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest projection, Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through at least Monday night. After hitting Haiti and Jamaica on Tuesday morning, Matthew is expected to reach Cuba by late evening.
The current track indicates Matthew will smash directly into the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo. The Naval command is evacuating hundreds of personnel, family members and non-essential staff from Gitmo to a Florida base, according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.
“The remaining military and civilian personnel will shelter in place and be able to support recovery efforts once safe to do so following the storm’s passage,” the Navy said in a press release.
The exact path of the monster storm is indeterminate at this time, and Matthew’s destructive power could increase substantially if it veers out to warm ocean waters, where it would pick up huge strength before veering back to clobber the East Coast.
At a minimum, Hurricane Matthew will begin moving up the U.S. southern East Coast with winds of at least 110 miles-per-hour on Thursday morning. The U.S. National Weather Service predicts dangerous swells, coastal flooding, and beach erosion as far north as Virginia, but warns that the Mid-Atlantic and New England states could be affected within two weeks.