ORANJESTAD, Aruba—”Matthew” is now at hurricane strength Thursday as it moved toward the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in the Southern Caribbean.
The so-called “ABC islands” of the Dutch Caribbean are outside the hurricane belt and are usually spared from tropical storms, making Matthew a rare event for the area. A tropical storm watch was in effect for all three places.
The Aruba weather service said the storm was expected to pass about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of the island.
Matthew passed over the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday, causing at least one death. Officials in St. Vincent say a 16-year-old boy was crushed by a boulder as he tried to clear a blocked drain.
— DMV Weather (@DmvWX) September 29, 2016
2PM UPDATE: We now have Hurricane Matthew with 75 mph max winds. Updated track at 5 pm pic.twitter.com/NFzI4KmOhP
— Kaitlin Wright (@wxkaitlinw) September 29, 2016
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), the storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and was centered 225 miles (360 kilometers) northeast of Curacao and 290 miles (465 kilometers) south of Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Tropical storm-force winds extended out for 205 miles (335 kilometers). It was forecast to become a hurricane later Thursday, then turn to the north and head toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.
Reports have noted that Matthew’s forecast is similar to Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which hit the mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States.
Hazel hit the region as a Category 4.
— (((Ed Moran))) (@EdMahmoud) September 28, 2016
Epoch Times contributed to this report.