Hurricane Hunters have found that Matthew has strengthened and close to hurricane status. Additional strengthening is likely over the next few days and Matthew could become a hurricane later Thursday or Friday.
Matthew's forward speed has slowed some since yesterday and it continues to move westward through the Caribbean. A turn toward to northwest or north is expected by this weekend near Jamaica.
The thinking on the eventual path of Matthew has not changed. The forecast models have been fairly consistent turning the storm toward the north and northwest by the weekend and through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti by early next week. The models have slowed the timing some with the storm nearing the Bahamas by mid-week. An eventual track along or just just off the US East coast from North Carolina northward has been advertised for many days now and remains a distinct possibility.
Strengthening will be gradual over the next few days. The wind shear that is currently plaguing the storm will lessen some and this will give the storm a little better environment in which to strengthen. From there the storm will likely move northward as it feels a weakness in the large high currently steering it westward. There is still a large amount of uncertainty as to when the north turn will occur and this will have large implications on who is impacted. There are still several days to watch it and we'll give you the latest as it develops.
Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley