Hurricane Earl strengthens to a Category 4 storm with winds near 135 mph, Puerto Rico braces

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Earl strengthens to Category 4 storm

MIAMI — The National Hurricane Center says Earl has strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane with winds near 135 mph (215 kph) as it moves away from the Virgin Islands.

Earl is on a path that could brush the coast of the U.S. later in the week, though it’s too early to tell exactly where it will go.

For now, tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, among other places. Puerto Rico is also bracing for heavy rains and high seas.

Earl is about 110 miles (180 kph) northeast of San Juan and moving west northwest at 15 mph (24 kph.)

Tropical Storm Fiona is right behind it, east of the Leeward Islands.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

MIAMI (AP) — The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Fiona has formed in the Atlantic Ocean behind Hurricane Earl, which is battering the northeastern Caribbean.

Fiona formed east of the Leeward Islands on Monday afternoon and forecasters say a tropical storm watch may be required later in the day.

The storm has winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is about 890 miles (1,435 km) east of the Leeward Islands.

Earl, meanwhile, rapidly intensified into a major Category 3 storm on a path projected to menace the United States.

will not be displayed