BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — Tropical Storm Matthew lashed islands in the eastern Caribbean with heavy wind and rain Wednesday as it gained strength and headed west.
The effects of the storm were felt primarily in the southernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles, including Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Authorities there closed airports and schools and urged people to stay indoors as the storm passed during the day.
The National Emergency Management Organization of St. Vincent said about 90 people were moved into emergency shelters because their homes were in low-lying areas that were expected to flood as the area received up to 8 inches (15 centimeters) of rain.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Matthew had sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) with higher gusts. It said tropical storm-force winds extended out from the center for 205 miles (335 kilometers).
The storm was tracking across the southeastern Caribbean Sea, an area that gets relatively few storms compared to the rest of the region. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Matthew was expected to become a hurricane by Friday and then turn north toward Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.
Matthew was centered about 65 miles (110 kilometers) west of St. Lucia at 5 p.m. EDT and was moving west at 18 mph (30 kph).