Dangerous Hurricane Matthew will bring great risk to lives and property from Haiti and Cuba to the Bahamas this week.
Matthew will continue to weave a general northward path around the large islands of the northern Caribbean through Wednesday.
"Fluctuations in strength, ranging from Category 4 to Category 2 status are likely as the hurricane is influenced by the mountainous islands and other atmospheric conditions," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
The powerful hurricane will pass close to or directly over the western tip of Haiti and the eastern tip of Cuba. In these areas, life-threatening conditions are likely, since the most powerful part of the hurricane will approach. Impacts will range from flooding rainfall and storm surge flooding to mudslides, high winds and dangerous seas and surf into the middle of the week.
However, flooding rainfall and mudslides will extend 100 miles or more to the east of the storm over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and can occur as far west as Jamaica and central Cuba. Drenching, gusty squalls can occur as far east as Puerto Rico.
The latest indications are that Matthew will take more of a northwestward path beginning around Wednesday and continuing through Friday.
"Beyond the large islands of the Caribbean, much of the Bahamas are likely to be in the direct path of Matthew from Wednesday into Friday," Kottlowski said.
The Turks and Caicos may also face significant impacts by the hurricane as it passes to their west.
The slow-moving nature of the hurricane will translate to days rather than hours of pounding surf, high winds and heavy rain on the islands. More than 20 inches of rain can fall near and east of the center of the storm, especially over mountainous terrain.
People are encouraged to make preparations now and heed evacuation orders as they are given.
Great disruption to travel will also occur in the region.
Cruise, freight and charter airline interests in the region should be prepared to change itineraries until the storm has passed. Commercial airline delays and cancellations are likely as the storm approaches.
Many of these areas will be in need of assistance in the wake of the storm. Power may be out for days. Food, fresh water and medical items may be in short supply following the storm.
As Matthew turns northwestward across the Bahamas, seas and surf along the coast of the southeastern United States will build and become dangerous later this week. How serious conditions become this weekend and beyond in the U.S. will depend on the path Matthew takes.