Posted on 22 Aug 2011
Irene strengthened into the first hurricane of 2011 early Monday, dumping heavy rain on Puerto Rico as it moved towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti, with Florida a distant potential target.
The storm was forecast to drop up to 10 inches of rain on much of the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico to the Turks and Caicos. In some areas, the National Hurricane Center said, 20 inches of rain could fall.
As of 7 a.m. Monday, the storm and its 75 mph sustained winds were located north of Puerto Rico, moving northwest at about 14 mph. It was expected to reach the Dominican Republic on Monday afternoon.
A hurricane warning was in effect for parts of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the central Bahamas. Tropical storm warnings were up for the U.S and British Virgin Islands, the south coast of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas.
The storm could cause dangerous flash floods and mudslides in the mountainous terrain of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Hurricane Center warned.