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In the rain today on Independence Street Roseau
In the rain today on Independence Street Roseau

A tropical storm watch is now in effect for Dominica and other islands of the Windwards as the islands brace for Matthew's fury.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has ordered the closure of Government offices and private business at 1.00 pm today. Yesterday, the Ministry of Education had ordered the closure of all schools today, Wednesday. The regional airline LIAT and the Express desille had also announced the cancellation of flights and the ferry service for today Wednesday.

At noon today, the National Hurricane Centre, Miami, Florida has announced that a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the French Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands and St. Lucia.

Interests in Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, and elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles should monitor the progress of Matthew, the NHC report advised.

It added: "At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the centre of Tropical Storm Matthew was located near latitude 13.4 North, longitude 60.7 West. Matthew is moving toward the west near 21 mph (33 km/h). A westward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the next couple ofdays. On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will move through the Windward Islands during the next couple of hours, and move over the eastern Caribbean Sea through Friday.

"Reports from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Matthew could become a hurricane by Friday.

"Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) primarily to the northeast of the centre. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1008 mb (29.77 inches).

Hazards affecting land

WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread over the southern Leeward Islands and northern Windward Islands within the next few hours and continue into this evening.

RAINFALL: Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches across the Windward Islands and southern portions of the Leeward Islands through Thursday. These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches are expected farther to the north into the northern Leeward Islands, including the United States and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.