UPDATE (11:00 p.m.) -- Matthew lurks off the southwestern tip of Haiti late Monday night, with highest winds near the eye increased to 145 mph. It remains a major Category 4 storm.
MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- Hurricane Matthew is set to lash out at parts of Cuba and Haiti tonight and Tuesday with monumental rain amounts and devastating wind gusts.
The center of Matthew was about 200 miles southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti, moving north at 6 mph, with peak wind speeds of 140 mph.
Matthew is a major Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of hurricane wind force. Sustained winds of 74 mph or higher extend about 35 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds stretch up to 185 miles from the center.
Rainfall amounts may easily exceed 15 to 20 inches, with isolated totals approaching 40 inches in parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which may trigger mudslides and flash flooding in these areas.
The hurricane is forecast to continue on a northerly path through the next few days, impacting islands in the Bahamas by midweek. While the center of Hurricane Matthew is depicted to remain offshore, the storm will parallel the Southeast coast of the United States, causing at least higher surf and an increase in rip currents along the Florida Atlantic shore.
A closer approach to the east coast may enhance these features, as well as cause gusty, squally conditions along the beaches of Florida and Georgia, depending on how close the storm moves.
Matthew is forecast to eventually curve to the northeast by the weekend, but questions remain as far as when that turn occurs and how much of the U.S. mainland can be impacted by a closer move by the hurricane. It is forecast to be weaker than its current form, as the upper-level winds would effect the structure of the storm.
In the Big Bend, side effects are possible in the forms of a gentle breeze in the Suwannee Valley, and broader cloud coverage and occasional rain possible Thursday or Friday east of Interstate 75. More likely, a drier trend will be in place for the remainder of the local region, with warm afternoons to conclude the work week.