The National Hurricane Center bumped up Hurricane Matthew to "major" status as the storm became a Category 3 on Friday. As of 11 a.m. EDT, Matthew was northeast of Colombia and southeast of Jamaica moving at about 12 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, triggering tropical storm warnings for parts of Colombia and Venezuela.
The storm was already causing damage to the Caribbean Islands. It knocked out power for more than 63,000 houses on Thursday in Martinique, sent 300 people to shelters and loosened a boulder that crushed a 16-year-old to death in St. Vincent, the Weather Channel reported.
"The authorities are working in a focused manner and we will mobilize the necessary resources, as we have always done, not just for this relief period but for the period of recovery and reconstruction," St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on state TV, according to Caribbean360.
The last major hurricane in the Caribbean Sea was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Weather Underground reported.
Matthew is set to head toward Jamaica this weekend and could affect Cuba by Monday. There, it could become a Category 2 hurricane. "As Matthew moves over Cuba it will lose some strength due to the friction with the land mass," ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo wrote, noting that it could restore itself once it's back over the water. "At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida, and only a few models have it hitting Florida by the middle of next week."
If Matthew moves along the East Coast, cities like Miami; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Atlantic City, New Jersey could be affected, AccuWeather reported. Residents should think about preparing accordingly.
Ready.gov recommends that, before a hurricane comes your way, you assemble a disaster kit with batteries and first aid materials, speak with your family about what to do in case of emergency, trim any trees with branches that could fall and pay attention to local warnings.