August 29th, 2010
02:17 PM ET

Earl becomes hurricane, churns toward Leeward Islands

Forecast to gain "major" Category 3 status, Hurricane Earl was bearing down on the northern Leeward Islands Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Earl became a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday. As of 11 a.m. ET, its center was located about 225 miles (360 kilometers) east of Antigua and about 315 miles (510 kilometers) east of St. Martin. Packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and higher gusts, Earl was heading westward at near 17 mph (28 kph).

A hurricane warning was in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba and St. Eustatius, forecasters said. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning was in effect for the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including the islands of Culebra and Vieques.

Tropical storm-force conditions were forecast in the warning area later Sunday, with hurricane conditions expected early Monday, forecasters said. Tropical storm conditions were expected to spread across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday, with hurricane conditions possible on Monday night.

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