Jamaica: Hurricane Matthew - DREF Operation Final Report n° MDRJM004


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster.

On 27 September 2016, Tropical Storm Matthew began gaining strength in the Caribbean; by September 28, the storm’s wind speeds had reached 60 mph (95 km / h), prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC) to post an advisory on Tropical Storm Matthew at 15:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) that day on its website. Within hours of the advisory, Matthew had moved toward Saint Lucia and entered the Caribbean Sea. The following day, it veered south-west and became a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained wind speeds at or exceeding 74 mph (119 km/h). On 30 September 2016, Hurricane Matthew became the most powerful hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, when it reached Category 4 hurricane status, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h). On 1 October 2016, Matthew briefly became a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at or exceeding 157 mph (253 km/h) before winds speeds decreased and returned to the Category 4 level.

On October 3, 2016, the centre of Hurricane Matthew was located near latitude 17.8 degrees North, Longitude 74.4 degrees West. Matthew moved toward the North near 15 km/h (9 mph). Maximum sustained winds were near 230 km/h (145 mph), with higher gusts, maintaining a Category 4 status on the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricane force winds extended outward up to 65 km (40 miles) from the centre and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 295 km (185 miles). Matthew continued a northward trajectory which kept Jamaica outside of the range of the hurricane-force winds; however, the risk of tropical-force winds spreading over eastern parishes remained, necessitating the issuing of a Tropical Storm Warning for the island.

On October 4, 2016 at 10:00 am, the Meteorological Service of Jamaica discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for Jamaica. The island was no longer threatened by Tropical Storm-force winds as hurricane Matthew continued to move away and weather conditions improved. The centre of Hurricane Matthew was located near latitude 18.9 degrees North, Longitude 74.3 degrees West. This was about 230 kilometres (140 miles) east of Morant Point or 60 Kilometres (35 miles) east of Tiburon, Haiti.
The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) received reports of roads being blocked because of rock fall and landslides in the parishes of Saint. Mary and Saint Ann. There were also reports of flooding in the parishes of Saint Thomas and Kingston and Saint Andrew and sea level rise on the coast of the parish of Clarendon. There were also disruptions to utilities such as electricity and water supplies primarily in the parish of Saint Mary, which also suffered from high turbidity in several communities. The Jamaica Red Cross continued to monitor the situation in the shelters opened across the island.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) issued a Public Service Announcement on Tuesday October 4, 2016 that activities at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) were scaled down to level 1 considering the reduction of the threat level of Hurricane Matthew. Level 1 is the monitoring phase. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) also recommended a return to routine operations where possible and that all shelters scale down operations depending on conditions in their respective areas. All Ministries, Departments and Agencies were expected to reopen at 10 a.m. Businesses were encouraged to follow through with their Business Continuity Plans and the Ministry of Education advised when schools will resume.

At 02:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (1800 Universal Time Coordinated [UTC]) on 7 October 2016, the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located near latitude 29.7 North, longitude 80.7 West, which was around 40 miles (60 km) east south-east of St. Augustine, Florida in the United States of America (USA) and around 60 miles (95 km) south-east of Jacksonville, Florida. Matthew moved toward the north north-west at 13 mph (20 km/h), and this general motion was expected on 7 October 2016. A turn toward the north on the evening of 7 October 2016 or Saturday, 8 October 2016 was expected. On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew was forecasted to continue moving near or over the coast of north-east Florida and Georgia through the evening of 7 October 2016 and near or over the coast of South Carolina, USA on Saturday, 8 October 2016.