MIAMI: Hurricane Matthew intensified Friday into a major, Category Three storm, packing winds of 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour over the Caribbean Sea, US forecasters said.
Warnings of heavy rains and winds were issued along the Colombia and Venezuela border, with Matthew expected to turn northward toward Jamaica by Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane's upgrade to Category Three on a scale of one to five came as the storm churned in a westerly direction over open seas about 105 miles northeast of Punta Gallinas, Colombia and 495 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.
"On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will pass north of the Guajira Peninsula later today and tonight and remain over the central Caribbean Sea through early Sunday," said the NHC.
"Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours."
Two to four inches (five to 10 centimeters) of rain are expected over Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire and parts of the Venezuelan and Colombian coasts through Saturday.
Life-threatening swells and riptides could also endanger the coastlines of these areas, along with Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the next two days.