Hurricane Matthew strengthens to 'powerful' category 5 storm

A hurricane southeast of Jamaica strengthened to a "powerful" Category 5 storm late Friday, forecasters said, and watches were in place for that nation as well as the southeastern coast of Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew is now the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic since Felix in 2007.

SEE ALSO: Dead Virginians re-registered to vote

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph as it churned in the Caribbean Sea about 440 miles southeast of Kingston, the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. ET Friday.

The storm is moving west at 7 mph, and is forecast to move across the central Caribbean Sea on Saturday, approaching Jamaica late Sunday, the hurricane center said.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to continue in portions of Colombia overnight and Hurricane conditions are possible in Jamaica by Monday, the center said.

Jamaica and south southwestern Haiti could get 10 to 15 inches of rain — with isolated areas getting possibly up to 25 inches — and that could cause flooding, the hurricane center added. The hurricane is expected to remain a powerful storm through Sunday.

RELATED: See social photos of Hurricane Matthew

15 PHOTOS
Hurricane Matthew
See Gallery
Hurricane Matthew
CARIBBEAN SEA - OCTOBER 1: In this NOAA handout image, taken by the GOES satellite at UTC: 1447Z shows Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean Sea just south of Cuba and Jamacia on October 1, 2016. Matthew is now a strong Category 4 hurricane, in the central Caribbean Sea after weakening from a Category 5 overnight. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
A man collects plastic and glass bottles in the canal of Portail Leogane, in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on October 1, 2016. As Hurricane Matthew threatens the Caribbean on Sunday, Haitians worry about flooding of the canal due to the accumulation of garbages. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Part of a street is reflected in a puddle near the canal of Portail Leogane, in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, on October 1, 2016. As Hurricane Matthew threatens the Caribbean on Sunday, Haitians worry about flooding of the canal due to the accumulation of garbages. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A small market is reflected in a puddle near the canal of Portail Leogane, in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, on October 1, 2016. As Hurricane Matthew threatens the Caribbean on Sunday, Haitians worry about flooding of the canal due to the accumulation of garbages. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman sells sandals in a street near the canal of Portail Leogane in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on October 1, 2016. As Hurricane Matthew threatens the Caribbean on Sunday, Haitians worry about flooding of the canal due to the accumulation of garbages. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A man repairs a bicycle in the Champ de Mars Square in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, on October 1, 2016. Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade, churned towards Jamaica and Haiti Saturday on a path that forecasters said could eventually take it to the eastern United States. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Jamaicans stand next to shopping carts filled with bottled water and other items outside a supermarket, pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans check flashlights at a supermarket pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans flock to the supermarkets to take care of last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans flock to the supermarkets to take care of last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Tropical Storm Matthew, which has since gained hurricane strength, is seen in an image captured by NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite at 1pm ET (17:00 GMT) September 29, 2016. NOAA/NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
SALINA, CURACAO -  SEPTEMBER 29: Flooded area is seen after the Matthew hurricane in Salina, Curacao on September 29, 2016. In Salina, which is one of the wellknown centre in Curacao, hurricane Matthew caused flood. The storm, which became hurricane category one, will past 230 km away from Curacao.  (Photo by Paco Nunez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SALINA, CURACAO -  SEPTEMBER 29: Flooded area is seen after the Matthew hurricane in Salina, Curacao on September 29, 2016. In Salina, which is one of the wellknown centre in Curacao, hurricane Matthew caused flood. The storm, which became hurricane category one, will past 230 km away from Curacao.  (Photo by Paco Nunez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Waves are seen as Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Although Hurricane Matthew is forecast to turn toward Jamaica, the hurricane was about 80 miles north of Punta Gallinas, Colombia, and the tropical storm conditions are possible in parts of that country overnight, forecasters said.

In Haiti, which has been hard-hit by natural disasters in the past, officials said preparation efforts were focused in the south of the country.

"We will prepare with drinking water for the patients, with medication, with generators for electricity, available vehicles to go look for people at their homes," Yves Domercant, the head of the public hospital in the south, Les Cayes, told Reuters.

The hurricane could brush by southern Florida by Wednesday, according to a forecast track. The hurricane center warned that forecast tracks made five days in advance can contain errors of more than 230 miles, and "it is too soon to rule out possible hurricane impacts from Matthew in Florida."

The tropical storm killed a teenager in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Wednesday, the National Emergency Management Organisation said

Read Full Story