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Hurricane Earl grows to Category 4; Tropical Storm Fiona forms

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Earl becomes a Category 4 hurricane
  • Tropical Storm Fiona develops in the Atlantic
  • Danielle is downgraded a from hurricane to a tropical storm

Is Hurricane Earl affecting you? Share images and information with CNN iReport.

Miami, Florida (CNN) -- With Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and soon the East Coast in its reach, Hurricane Earl prompted warnings for those areas from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday.

While there are currently no hurricane watches or warnings for the U.S. mainland, FEMA urged residents to be prepared for severe weather as projections show the storm could affect states up and down the East Coast, the agency said.

Earl strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane Monday, with sustained winds of up to 135 mph (215 kph). The hurricane was veering away from the U.S. Virgin Islands, but severe weather was expected there and in Puerto Rico.

An iReport video submitted to CNN by Khareem Cabey of Bassaterre on St. Kitts, showed strong winds blowing strongly enough to make small palm trees in a backyard bend in unison like dancers, as sprays of water crashed into roofs of neighboring houses. The storm knocked fences over and filled yards with debris.

"Hurricane Earl should serve as a reminder to all of us of the importance of being prepared for hurricanes and other emergencies," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said.

Video: Hurricane Earl's weekend plans
Video: Hundreds rescued from rip currents
Video: Dangerous swimming conditions

The public can visit the website to learn how to prepare for a hurricane, he said. Steps to take include developing a family communications plan, putting together a kit with 72 hours of food and water and staying informed of risks in the area, FEMA said.

As of 7 p.m. ET, Earl was about 95 miles (155 kilometers) from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The eye of the storm will move away from the Virgin Islands on Monday night and is expected to pass east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday night and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reported.

Earl was moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fiona formed in the Atlantic Monday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, the center said.

Fiona was about 890 miles (1,435 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands, the center said. Officials also advised that people in the northern Leeward Islands should monitor Fiona's progress, as a tropical storm watch may be issued for part of that area Monday night.

With Earl's movement, the government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands, and a tropical storm watch for the southeastern Bahamas, the hurricane center said.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda replaced the hurricane warning for the British Virgin Islands with a tropical storm warning.

St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius were no longer under a hurricane warning. The hurricane warnings in St. Bartin and St. Barthelemy also were lifted, the center said.

The hurricane warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Culbebra and Vieques was changed to a tropical storm warning, according to the hurricane center.

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.

What had been 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). Danielle was downgraded to a tropical storm as its winds dropped Monday to 70 mph (110 kph), below the minimum wind speed for a hurricane.

No coastal warnings or watches were in effect from Danielle.