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Hurricane Earl a Category 3 and getting stronger

Hurricane Earl got stronger as it lumbered across the Atlantic on Monday, forecasters said.

Sustained winds rose to 125 mph (205 kph), the National Hurricane Center said, and as of 3 p.m. ET, the storm was 60 miles (120 kilometers) from St. Thomas and 120 miles (230 kilometers) from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Earl’s eye was passing just north of the British Virgin Islands as of 3 p.m. Monday, the center said.

The storm is expected to turn northwest on Tuesday, it said.

Earl grew into a Category 3 hurricane Monday morning, the center said.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Barthelemy, Saba, St. Eustatius, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra.

// Hurricane conditions were spreading across the northern Virgin Islands, and tropical storm conditions will spread over portions of Puerto Rico on Monday afternoon, forecasters said, followed by possible hurricane conditions Monday evening.

Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands are likely to get 4 to 8 inches of rain, with as much as 12 inches in isolated areas, especially higher elevations, the hurricane center said. The rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

A storm surge could raise water levels by 3 to 5 feet, primarily near the coast in areas of onshore wind within the hurricane warning area, and 1 to 3 feet in the tropical storm warning area. The surge “will be accompanied by large and dangerous battering waves,” according to the hurricane center.

A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect for most of Puerto Rico.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Anguilla. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Turks and Caicos Islands.

Earl could affect areas in the United States from the Carolinas to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, over Labor Day weekend, said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras.

It is too soon to tell whether the storm could make landfall, she said. However, outer bands of the storm are likely to hit North Carolina beginning Thursday, kicking up large swells and possibly generating rip currents through Labor Day weekend, Jeras said.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Danielle continued weakening Monday in the northern Atlantic Ocean. As of 11 a.m. ET, Danielle’s center was about 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Cape Race, Newfoundland. It was moving northeast at near 16 mph (26 kph). The storm’s maximum sustained winds were at 75 mph (120 kph) — barely qualifying it as a hurricane.

No coastal warnings or watches were in effect from Danielle, and the National Hurricane Center is issuing updates only every six hours, since the storm is not threatening land. Updates on Earl are being issued every three hours.

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