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Hurricane Matthew strengthens to powerful Category 4

MIAMI — Hurricane Matthew has rapidly strengthened into a powerful Category 4 storm and a hurricane watch has been issued for Jamaica, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew is packing top sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) after gaining new strength Friday over the central Caribbean. The storm is located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Punta Gallinas, Colombia, and about 465 miles (750 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

The center says that as of 5 p.m. Friday, the storm is moving west-southwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

In addition to a hurricane watch for Jamaica, authorities also issued a tropical storm watch for the southwestern coast of Haiti. The tropical storm watch is in effect from Haiti's southern border with the Dominican Republic to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

Forecasters say Matthew is expected to turn toward the west-northwest by Saturday night and then toward the northwest on Sunday. The center says the storm's expected path over the central Caribbean is forecast to bring Matthew near Jamaica on Sunday.

The storm is expected to climb up the eastern seaboard but as rain will continue to pummel the New York area this week, forecasters say it is too soon to tell if it will hit the tri-state area.