Tropical Storm Matthew Causes Flood and Wind Damage in Eastern Caribean

Tropical Storm Matthew has caused severe flood and wind damage in parts of the Eastern Caribbean, including the islands of Martinique, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Local media report that one person died after in St Vincent after the heavy rain triggered a rockslide.

Over 300 mm of rain fell in parts of southern St Lucia in the space of 24 hours.

The storm has now strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane is is heading north, with the possibility of affecting Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republic over the coming days.

Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Tropical Storm Matthew, the 13th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Wednesday 28 September 2016 near the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

The tropical disturbance strengthened to a Tropical Storm early on Wednesday 28 September, with sustained winds of up to 95 km/h , according to US Air Force observations.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands. A red alert for heavy rain was issued in Martinique. Tropical storm watches have been issued for the Leeward Islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.

Heavy rain has been observed at several stations in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, especially in Saint Lucia, Martinique and Dominica Islands.

In a 24 hour period between 28 and 29 September 2016, as much as 319.19 mm of rain was recorded at Hewanorra Airport Station in the south of Saint Lucia. In the north of the Island, at Vigie station, 134.1 mm was recorded during the same period, while in Martinique Island, the recorded rain reached 134.4 mm at Le Lamentin station, close to Fort-de-France.

A record wind gusts up to 145 km/h was reported in Saint Pierre, in the North of Martinique Island.

The rainstorm and the intense wind gusts resulted in flooding and damages, threatening lives and affecting houses and communication routes.

According to local news, power outages in Martinique Island affected 50,000 people. Trees have been uprooted and major damages to banana plantations reported, especially in the northern part of the island.

The southern area of Saint Lucia and parts of Saint Vincent islands suffered the worst of the storm.

In Saint Vincent, one person died after a rockslide was triggered by the heavy rain.

In Saint Lucia, the passage of the storm resulted in widespread flooding, especially in Laborie, Vieux-Fort and Micoud Quarters.

Since then St Lucia National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) has issued the “all clear” for the island.

“Saint Lucia experienced intense rains and gusty winds due to the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew which impacted the island on Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. Tropical Storm Warnings were discontinued as from 5:00 A.M and the ALL CLEAR was issued at 8:00 A.M. by the Saint Lucia Meteorological Services.

“The event triggered the activation of the National Emergency Operation Center. A reconnaissance mission was conducted today and Damage and Needs Assessment (DANA) Teams have since been deployed to provide the initial assessment in order to identify the country’s needs.

“Tropical Storm Matthew continues to track westward away from Saint Lucia and the threats from the hazards associated with this system have diminished. All quadrants of Saint Lucia reported some flooding overnight including Gros-Islet, Castries, Bexon, Dennery, Laborie Micoud, Choiseul, and Vieux- Fort. Landslides occurred in Ti Kaye in Anse-la-Raye, La Caye, Upper Thomazo, and Aux-Lyons in Dennery.”

Video of flooding in St Lucia after rain from Tropical Storm Matthew:

Matthew Strengthens to Hurricane

Late on 29 September, Matthew was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds increased to near 110 km/h. Gradual strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours (up to Category 2 Hurricane).

Models forecast that in the next days Matthew is likely to make a northwest turn, towards Hispañola, Jamaica and Cuba.

Image: NOAA
Image: NOAA

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