Islanders set up emergency shelters and airlines canceled flights as newly born Hurricane Earl churned toward the northern Caribbean on Sunday. Cruise lines diverted ships to avoid the storm's path.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Earl strengthened into a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), and was expected to continue picking up steam as it moved near the northern Leeward islands.
Steady bands of rain began lashing islands including Antigua, where the Grand Pineapple Beach Resort on the north side battened down early for the night and tourists sought shelter inside their rooms.
Winds were heavy but had not caused any major damage, and the surf was higher than normal but not punishing, general manager Courtney Miller told The Associated Press by phone.
Center forecasters said Earl could strengthen into a major hurricane as soon as Monday - probably while east of Puerto Rico. Major hurricanes are those Category 3 and higher.