One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history roared over the open Caribbean Sea on Saturday on a course that threatened Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.
Authorities in the area overall breathed a sigh of relief as the storm triggered heavy flooding in towns along the La Guajira peninsula of Colombia, but damage overall was minimal.
In Jamaica, high surf began pounding the coast and flooding temporarily closed the road linking the capital to its airport.
Residents of the capital, Kingston, crowded supermarkets to buy bottled water, canned food and batteries, and there was already flooding in the coastal town of Port Royal, where officials were urging residents to seek refuge in government shelters once they open up on Sunday.
EDT (0000 GMT), the storm was centered about 360 miles (580 kilometers) south-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.