Hurricane warnings are in effect for the northern Leeward Islands. Earl will move through that area tonight into Monday with strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The center of the hurricane will pass to the northeast of these areas, but the southern part of the storm will result in at least tropical-storm conditions.
As of early this afternoon, Earl had sustained winds of 75 mph, but National Hurricane Center forecasters are expecting that Earl will grow stronger as it tracks northwestward during the next couple of days. Earl will likely be the second major hurricane of the season by midday on Monday, following quickly on the heels of Hurricane Danielle.
Current forecasts predict that the storm will peak at sustained winds of approximately 125 mph on Thursday.
Forecasters expect that hurricane Earl will begin to take a more northerly track after passing to the east of the Bahamas on Wednesday and will move along the East Coast of the United States during the middle and latter part of the week. With the storm tracking so close to the coast, residents there are advised to monitor the path of the storm closely in the coming days, especially from eastern North Carolina to southern New England -- areas that are on the western edge of the government's current forecast cone.
At the very least, the hurricane will produce dangerous riptides and rough seas in beach communities, during a week when many vacationers have headed to the coast for the last trip of the summer. If the storm were to track along the western edge of the forecast cone, the impacts of the hurricane would be much more intense.
Residents of Atlantic Canada are also advised to monitor the hurricane closely since a more direct landfall is possible next weekend.
Hurricane Earl is not the only tropical threat of the week. Hurricane Danielle will continue to weaken as it moves northeastward into the northern Atlantic, posing no direct threat to land. Of more concern is the possibility of the development of a third hurricane in the Atlantic.
Forecasters are expecting an area of disturbed weather heading into the central portion of the tropical Atlantic to develop into a tropical storm and hurricane this week. If the storm does strengthen, it will be called Fiona. Official forecast tracks and possible storm intensity are not being issued since the storm has yet to develop, but this storm has the potential to become a significant hurricane and take a track similar to Earl, bringing the storm into the western Atlantic.