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Tropical Storm Matthew will form in Caribbean and may approach US next week

By , Senior Meteorologist
September 28, 2016; 5:35 AM ET

There is a significant chance the tropical system brewing near the Caribbean could take a turn toward the United States next week.

“A budding tropical system is likely to become Tropical Depression Fourteen and then Tropical Storm Matthew at any time on Wednesday,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

This is a live loop of the budding tropical system, currently located east of the Lesser Antilles over the Atlantic Ocean. (NOAA/Satellite)

Matthew to threaten Caribbean into this weekend

Short-term rain, wind and sea impacts over the Caribbean will depend on how quickly the storm strengthens.

Breezes will evolve into stiff winds, seas will turn rough and spotty showers will transition to gusty squalls and potentially into severe thunderstorms as the system moves along in the Caribbean.

The first areas to feel the direct impacts will be the Windward and southern Leeward islands. Gusty squalls and building surf will unfold through Wednesday.

The effects of the storm have the potential to become more severe during the weekend.

“The system will take a westward path across the central Caribbean this weekend, where strengthening to a hurricane is possible,” Kottlowski said.

Areas from the Dominican Republic and Haiti to Cuba and Jamaica, as well as northern Venezuela and Colombia, should closely monitor the path and strength of the system, which could be a strong tropical storm or hurricane by Sunday.

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Interaction with the large islands and mountains could hinder any strengthening.

Cruise, fishing and shipping interests in the Caribbean Sea may want to avoid the area until the threat passes beyond early next week.

Potential Matthew paths beyond this weekend include US

The system could take a northward or northwestward turn late this weekend and into early next week.

How far west the system makes the turn will determine whether or not the U.S. Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Seaboard will be threatened next week.

The system’s movement will also dictate which of the Greater Antilles would be directly affected by heavy rain, flooding, mudslides and strong winds this weekend.

There are two critical features that are likely to influence the track of the storm beginning late this weekend.

A southward dip in the jet stream over the South Central states will likely tug the system northward initially.

The jet stream is a fast river of air high in the atmosphere that guides weather systems along.

A second feature may guide the system along during the middle of next week.

A storm will bring rain to the Northeastern states into this weekend. If that storm lingers into next week, it could tug the tropical system toward the U.S. Atlantic coast.

If the storm in the Northeast leaves, it may open the door for the tropical system to venture onshore in the Southeastern states.

“Until the system becomes better organized the track and strength beyond four days is highly uncertain,” Kottlowski said.

More remote possibilities range from a continued westward path into Central America and a very abrupt turn to the northeast, keeping the storm east of the U.S. next week.

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