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Hurricane Earl to Intensify to Category Three Hurricane

The storm will strike the Virgin Islands later today and has the potential to affect the U.S. mainland, with North Carolina at greatest risk.

As of 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time, Hurricane Earl producing sustained winds of about 110 miles per hour, with high gusts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center. Currently a category two hurricane, Earl is precede by the National Hurricane Center to become a category three system.

Earl is currently located at about 140 miles north, northeast of St. Thomas, moving west, northwest. NOAA has issued a hurricane warning for the northern Leeward Islands, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Monserrat and St. Maarten. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning is in effect for Puerto Rico. The center of the storm will pass over the northernmost Leeward island before noon Eastern Time and will be near the Virgin Islands this afternoon and this evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Earl is expected to continue to track towards the west-northwest on Monday, with a turn towards the northwest expected early Tuesday, 1 September, according to a news release from RMS (Newark, Calif.). Beyond Monday, the NHC forecast track will take Earl north, with the extended forecast showing the system to pass between the U.S. east coast and Bermuda sometime between Thursday, 2 September and Friday, 3 September, according to RMS. Under this forecast track scenario, Earl would not impact the U.S East Coast, or Bermuda, however there is a large cone of uncertainty associated with this extended forecast and should the track deviate to the west then Earl could potentially impact the U.S eastern seaboard, with North Carolina at greatest risk, while a deviation to the east could impact the island of Bermuda, RMS reports. Model guidance is showing the system to curve to the northeast in around 96 hours, taking it away from the U.S east coast. Monday's track forecasts beyond 24 hours have moved slightly west compared to 24 hours ago which means the models expect Earl to track slightly closer to the U.S. coastline than they were this time yesterday.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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