ORANJESTAD, Aruba – Tropical Storm Matthew was nearing hurricane strength Thursday as it moved toward the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao 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 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.
At 11 a.m. EDT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was centered 225 miles northeast of Curaçao and 290 miles south of Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Tropical storm-force winds extended out for 205 miles. It was forecast to become a hurricane later Thursday, then turn to the north and head toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.