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Hurricane Matthew soaks Colombia, heads for Jamaica, Haiti

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Matthew, a potentially devastating Category 4 storm, swirled across the Caribbean toward Haiti and Jamaica, where residents frantically stocked up on emergency supplies and authorities urged people to evacuate threatened areas.

Matthew is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history and briefly reached the top classification, Category 5, before weakening slightly to a high-end Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. It is the strongest hurricane here since Felix in 2007.

While previous forecasts had Matthew passing near or over the eastern tip of Jamaica, the latest projection has it shifting eastward and possibly striking the southwestern tip of Haiti on Monday. A hurricane warning has been issued for the impoverished country which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Deforestation has greatly increased the potential for devastating floods and landslides on Haiti, and combined with the ramshackle structure of many homes and building, this means that Matthew could deal a vicious blow to the country.

After passing Jamaica and Haiti, Matthew is expected to reach Cuba on Tuesday, potentially making a direct hit on the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, where there's a mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel.

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