Monday, August 30th, 2010...8:15 am

Hurricane Earl strengthens over Leeward Islands

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MIAMI, CMC – Hurricane Earl continues to strengthen as it makes it way across the northern leeward islands on Monday forcing the closure of airports and the cancellation of several flights by the regional airline LIAT.
At 8.00 am local time, Hurricane Earl, the season’s third named storm was located 25 miles north-northeast of St. Martin and about 140 miles east of St. Thomas.

The Category Two storm has winds of 110 miles per hour and the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, the British and United States Virgin islands said a hurricane warning remained in effect  for those islands.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Earl is moving towards the west-northwest near 14 miles per hour and that a turn to the northwest is expected on Tuesday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Earl will pass near or over the northernmost Leeward Islands this morning and near the Virgin Islands this afternoon and this evening,” NHC said, adding that “additional strengthening is forecast and Earl is expected to become a major hurricane later today”.
The regional airline has already announced the cancellation of a number of its flights and the Antigua and Barbuda authorities have said that the VC Bird International Airport has been closed as the hurricane makes its way across the region.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has also appealed to citizens to make use of the designated shelters on the island and “to take every necessary precaution to protect the lives of their families and property and most importantly to provide assistance to your neighbour who may be in need of help”.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, heavy winds and rain were battering the twin island federation, but weather forecasters said the conditions could continue late into Monday.
Local radio stations said there were no reports of injuries and officials with the National Emergency Management Agency were urging residents to stay indoors.
In Montserrat, disaster management officials were assessing the impact of the hurricane.
Preliminary reports sare that a number of raods were blocked by flood waters and debris but there were no reports of injuries.

Some residents remained without electricity service as the Montserrat Utilities Limited checked the impact on its network.

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