ORANJESTAD, ARUBA — A strengthening Hurricane Matthew whipped at Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao early Friday as it passed north of the islands on a rare track through a part of the Caribbean that rarely sees such storms.
Authorities on the Dutch Caribbean islands had urged residents to reinforce their homes and stock up on emergency supplies. Some streets flooded on Aruba and Curacao in the early hours of the storm’s pass-by, though there were no reports of evacuations.
Matthew’s approach prompted long lines at gas stations and supermarkets on the so-called «ABC islands.» Authorities in Aruba ordered government offices closed Friday and Curacao’s parliamentary elections were postponed until next week.
The hurricane also was headed for a brush with the Colombia-Venezuela border area near the Maracaibo oil region on Friday.
Matthew was turn north on Saturday and head toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti as a major hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. It grew into a Category 2 storm early Friday with maximum sustained winds near 105 mph (165 kph) and forecasters said it could become even stronger before reaching Jamaica early Monday.
Matthew was centered about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Punta Gallinas in Colombia and 520 miles (840 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, Friday morning. It was moving west-southwest near 14 mph (22 kph).
Hurricane-force winds extended out for 45 miles (75 kilometers) and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 185 miles (295 kilometers).
Matthew caused at least one death when it entered the Caribbean on Wednesday, with officials in St. Vincent reporting a 16-year-old boy was crushed by a boulder as he tried to clear a blocked drain.