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Category 4 Hurricane Earl Is Making its Way Towards East Coast

Source: CNN

Posted on 31 Aug 2010

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Hurricane Earl passed through the northern Caribbean early on Tuesday after strengthening to Category Four status and veered onto a path toward the East Coast of the United States.

Earl quickly developed into a Category 4 storm on Monday, packing winds of 135 mph (215 kph). It also grew large, with hurricane-force winds stretching 70 miles (110 km) from its center and tropical storm-force winds extending outward some 200 miles (325 kilometers).

"We don't expect it to weaken," CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said Tuesday. "It may strengthen."

As of 9 a.m. ET, the center of Earl was about 200 miles (325 kilometers) north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and about 230 miles (370 kilometers) east-southeast of Grand Turk Island. It was heading west-northwest at about 13 mph (20 kph).

Tropical storm warnings for Puerto Rico, including the islands of Culebra and Vieques, and the Virgin Islands were discontinued as of 7 a.m. A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Turks and Caicos islands, and a tropical storm watch was in effect for the southeastern Bahamas. Those areas could experience above-normal tides, along with "large and dangerous battering waves" on Tuesday, forecasters said.

But the National Hurricane Center said conditions on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including gusty winds, were expected to improve as Earl departed, and storm surge flooding and waves will diminish.

"We were quite fortunate because there was no direct hit in this case," Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno told CNN's "American Morning." But, he said, the island experienced "lots of rain" and some high winds. As of Tuesday morning, 174,000 customers were without power, he said, and 33,000 lacked water service.

"There are some roads that are blocked because trees have fallen," Fortuno said. "Those are being removed as we speak, and hopefully we'll be able to get back to normal during the course of the day and tomorrow will be a regular working day."