People in the Dutch Caribbean islands reinforced their homes and stocked up on emergency supplies Thursday as Hurricane Matthew took a rare turn through the southern Caribbean ahead of an expected shift to the north.
Matthew was expected to pass to the north of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, before shifting on a course predicted to take it toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti over the weekend.
The so-called “ABC islands” of the Dutch Caribbean, which were under a tropical storm watch, are usually spared from tropical storms. Matthew’s approach prompted long lines at gas stations and supermarkets. Authorities in Aruba said government offices would be closed Friday and Curacao’s parliamentary elections were postponed until next week.
The government of Colombia also issued a tropical storm watch for its coast from Riohach to the Venezuelan border.
Matthew passed over the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday, causing at least one death. Officials in St. Vincent said a 16-year-old boy was crushed by a boulder as he tried to clear a blocked drain.
At 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), the storm had maximum sustained winds of 75mph (120 kph) and was centered 150 miles (240 kilometers) north-northeast of Curacao, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. It is traveling westward at 15 mph (24 kph).
Hurricane-force winds extended out for 70 miles (110 kilometers) and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 185 miles (295 kilometers).