Hurricane Earl upped to powerful category four

MIAMI, Florida — US weather experts on Monday raised Hurricane Earl to a category four storm, warning “catastrophic damage” will occur if it makes landfall as it barrels across the Caribbean towards the US.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 31 Aug 2010, 12:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:37 AM

Earl had brushed past the northern Virgin islands early Monday and was now forecast to pass east of the islands of Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas before possibly swiping the eastern US coast later in the week.

On the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale used by the US National Hurricane Center, a category four storm carries a warning that “catastrophic damage will occur” with a high risk of structural damage.

“There is a very high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris,” the center says on its website.

Packing winds of about 135 miles (215 kilometers) an hour, Earl was dumping heavy rainfall and whipping huge waves as it churned across the Caribbean.

But moving west northwest at about 15 miles (24 kilometers) an hour, it skirted low-lying islands without making landfall, and earlier hurricane warnings were downgraded to a tropical storm warning Monday for Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands.

Hurricane Earl could strengthen even further in the next day or so, the center warned in its latest advisory issued at 2100 GMT.

Meanwhile, an earlier hurricane Danielle was downgraded to just a tropical storm as it continued to weaken in the Atlantic while a new depression forming off the Lesser Antilles was upgraded to become Tropical Storm Fiona.

A tropical storm warning is now in place for the popular tourist islands of the Turks and Caicos when Earl is due to pass on Tuesday, with a storm watch in effect for the southeastern Bahamas.

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