Hurricane MatthewThe system, was upgraded to a Hurricane on Thursday afternoon.

In an alert issued late Wednesday, Jamaica’s National Meteorological Service  said the system could pose a direct threat to the island.

Fishermen on Jamaica’s cays and banks have been advised to commence preparations with a view to evacuating, should it become necessary.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM) has also alerted all agencies and parish disaster committees, while emergency managers, responders and volunteers have been placed on standby.

Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, the Emergency Operations Centre has  issued an alert for the southern region of the country.

This afternoon, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said Jamaica and Hispañola  – particularly Haiti – could start to feel the impact of the Hurricane by late Sunday and eastern Cuba as soon as Monday.

The NHC, in its update at 2 p.m. (local time), said the centre of the hurricane was located near latitude 14.2 degrees North and longitude 67.0 degrees west.

Matthew is moving towards the west near 17 miles per hour and a general westward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the next couple of days

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph with higher gusts and gradual strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours.

Tropical Storm conditions are possible in Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba beginning late Thursday.

Rainfall totals of two to four inches with isolated higher amounts are expected over those islands through Saturday.

The Hurricane Centre also warned that swells generated by Matthew are expected to affect portions of the coasts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia during the next few days. (CMC)