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Major Hurricane Matthew strengthens to Category 4

Hurricane Matthew (National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Matthew (National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Matthew has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was considered a major hurricane once it strengthened to Category 3.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph as of the 5 p.m. update. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Jamaica.

“Many land areas are at least threatened by the system,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center. “Hurricane hunters are going to be flying in and out of Matthew for days to come.”

Knabb noted that south Florida could be threatened next week, but inhabitants had “the luxury of time,” and he encouraged people to use it to prepare and buy supplies.

CNN Weather said it is still unclear whether Matthew will hit Florida, where weather models currently have it possibly scraping. But by late Sunday or Monday the dangerous storm should be approaching Jamaica, Haiti and eastern Cuba.

IBC Airways has canceled all flights to and from the American naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Monday because of the approaching storm, the naval station announced via Twitter.

The storm was a Category 1 storm on Thursday.

A westward motion at a slower speed is expected later Friday with a turn to the west-northwest by Sunday, the weather bulletin said.

Jamaica Meteorological Service’ Director Evan Thomas said he expected the storm to hit the island and said fishermen have been advised to evacuate from the cays and return to the mainland, the Jamaica Observer reported.