Tropical Storm Matthew expected to become hurricane

Tropical Storm Matthew became the 13th named storm in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday morning, and is expected to strengthen and turn north.

“How far west Matthew makes the turn will determine whether or not the U.S. Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Seaboard will be threatened later next week,” Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist said Wednesday.

The five-day map from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm making an almost 90-degree turn north toward Jamaica over the weekend.

Tropical-storm warnings were issued for Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands and St. Lucia.

The Hurricane Hunters, based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, are flying into the storm to get more precise information on its intensity.

“Reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph, according to the latest advisory, with stronger gusts. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Matthew could become a hurricane by Friday,” according to the National Hurricane Center advisory.

Tropical storm–force winds extend up to 205 miles.

The Hurricane Center said Matthew is moving toward the west at about 21 mph, and it is expected to slow in the next couple of days.

The only other disturbance on the tropical map is a weak low pressure that is expected to move inland over Tampico, Mexico, late Wednesday or Thursday.