Hurricane Earl may strike U.S. east coast

September 1st, 2010 - 12:39 am ICT by BNO News  

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Hurricane Earl maintained its strength on Tuesday an remained as a powerful Category 4 storm after battering the northeastern Caribbean, meteorologists said.

As of 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Earl is located about 335 kilometers (205 miles) east of Grand Turk Island.

Forecasters at the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Earl has maximum sustained winds near 135 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, and higher gusts, making it an extremely dangerous category four storm. According to the NHC, some fluctuations in intensity are likely but the hurricane is forecast to retain category four status for the next 48 hours.

The NHC said Earl is moving toward the west-northwest near 22 kilometers (14 miles) per hour, with a turn toward the northwest expected on Tuesday night.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 110 kilometers (70 miles) from the center of Earl, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 325 kilometers (200 miles).

As of 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands. Additionally, a tropical storm watch is in effect for southeastern Bahamas.

Starting late Thursday or early Friday morning, Early may begin to affect the U.S. East Coast from North Carolina to the north. By that time, Earl is forecast to be a category three hurricane.

But the NHC said it is not yet known how badly the U.S. East Coast may be hit, if it all. “Given the track and the large area of tropical storm force winds, a hurricane watch will likely be required for a portion of the mid-Atlantic coast later today,” the NHC said. “Interests from the Carolinas northward to New england should monitor the progress of Earl,” the center added.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Fiona is located 705 kilometers (440 miles) east of the Leeward Islands. It has maximun sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguila, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. According to the NHC, Fiona is expected to pass near or northeast of the Leeward Islands on Wednesday.

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