PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew (all times local):
The U.S. Coast Guard is advising boaters in southeastern Florida to start preparing for Hurricane Matthew.
In news releases sent Monday, the agency says ports and facilities currently remain open to commercial traffic, but all oceangoing vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons “should make plans for departing the port.”
Vessels seeking to stay in the port should contact the captain at each facility to receive permission to do so.
Pleasure boat owners are advised to seek safe harbor.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the hurricane’s center is likely to miss Florida, but a direct impact can’t be ruled out.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says it’s still too early to say whether Hurricane Matthew will hit the United States.
The center says Hurricane Matthew is now on track to pass just east of Jamaica and near or over the southwestern tip of Haiti early Tuesday before it heads to eastern Cuba. It is expected to pass through the Turks and Caicos Islands and southern Bahamas early Wednesday.
Senior Hurricane Specialist Richard Pasch says the track after that point is uncertain. It appears that it will be staying east of Florida but the center is warning people in the state to monitor the system just in case.
Pasch says storms in South Florida on Sunday night and early Monday were not related to Hurricane Matthew and were caused by an area of low pressure.
The director of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency says two fishermen have died in rough water churned up by the approaching Hurricane Matthew.
Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste says a boat carrying one of the men capsized early Monday off the tiny fishing town of Saint Jean du Sud as he was trying to bring his wooden skiff to shore.
Jean-Baptiste says body of the other was recovered a short time later off the nearby town of Aquin after he apparently drowned.
Both towns are near the southwestern coastal city of Les Cayes. The center of Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass near or over southwestern Haiti on Tuesday, but the area is already experiencing rain from the outer bands of the storm.
The deaths of the two fishermen in Haiti brings the total death toll from Hurricane Matthew to at least four.
The government banned boating along the country’s coastlines starting Saturday. But the head of an 80-member fishermen’s association in the south coast town of Gressier says some fishermen were taking to the seas early Monday.
Johnny Souffrant says “They feel they have to take risks to support their families.”
A senior government official in Jamaica says people in flood-prone areas of the country are refusing to leave their homes as the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew bring heavy rain and some flooding to parts of the island.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says one such area is Port Royal near the now-closed international airport in Kingston. McKenzie says the government ordered the area evacuated and sent two buses to help people move. But he says only two adults and two children boarded the bus. Others in the neighborhood wanted to stay and protect their homes.
The center of Hurricane Matthew was expected to pass to the east of Jamaica on Tuesday.
Already, many streets have flooded in low-lying areas. Police say there have been no casualties reported so far, but two men were arrested for looting in Kingston.
Major Hurricane Matthew is slowly churning northward across the Caribbean and meteorologists say the powerful storm is expected to approach Jamaica and southwest Haiti by Monday night.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the dangerous Category 4 storm has top sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph).
A 2 a.m. hurricane center update said the eye of Matthew is about 310 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, and about 245 miles (395 kilometers) south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. The storm is moving to the north at 5 mph (7 kph).
A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas – as well as the southeastern Bahamas. A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Central Bahamas.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Puerto Plata west to the border with Haiti.
Vulnerable Haiti braced for flash floods and violent winds from the extremely dangerous Hurricane Matthew as the powerful storm kept on a path early Monday aiming at the hemisphere’s poorest country.
The eye of the approaching Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph) late Sunday, was expected to pass to the east of Jamaica and then cross over or be very close to the southwestern tip of Haiti late Monday or early Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It was predicted to hit the lightly populated eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Haiti, and Cuba. Rain was already lashing parts of Jamaica and flooding some homes, but forecasters said the southern Haitian countryside around Jeremie and Les Cayes could see the worst of the rains and punishing winds.
Matthew is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history and briefly reached the top classification, Category 5, becoming the strongest hurricane in the region since Felix in 2007. The hurricane center said the storm appeared to be on track to pass east of Florida through the Bahamas, but it was too soon to predict with certainty whether it would threaten any spot on the U.S. East Coast.