Hurricane Earl lashed the northeastern Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds Monday, causing flooding in low-lying parts of the Leeward Islands as it gained strength on a course that could threaten the eastern United States later this week.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Earl, which formed on Sunday, already had sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was likely to keep growing.
"It is possible that Earl could become a Category 4 hurricane as we get into the middle to late portions of the week," hurricane center specialist Michael Brennan said. Category 4 storms have sustained winds of at least 131 mph (210 kph).
The storm's forecast track would carry its center north of the Caribbean, then forecasters say it is likely to bend to the north, moving roughly parallel to the U.S. East Coast. The hurricane center said it is early to say what impact if any Earl would have on the U.S.
In Antigua, powerful wind and rain destroyed at least one home and at least eight people had to be evacuated, though there were no reports of critical injuries. Emergency response officials said about 350 people were in shelters. Local weather authorities reported at least 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain and 10-foot (3-meter) waves.