MIAMI (AFP) — Hurricane Felix gained intensity as it tore across
the warm waters of the Caribbean early Sunday, the Florida-based
National Hurricane Center said.
In the pre-dawn hours the
Hurricane Center upgraded Felix to a Category Two hurricane on the
Saffir-Simpson scale on a scale of five, with winds of 160 kilometers
(100 miles) per hour and even higher gusts.At 0900 GMT the
storm's center was located about 135 kilometers (85 miles)
east-northeast of the island of Aruba, traveling towards the west at
about 30 kilometers (18 miles) per hour, the Hurricane Center said in
its latest advisory.
"On this track the center of Felix will pass
very near the north of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao during the next few
hours, and into the open waters of the Central Caribbean sea later
(Sunday)," the advisory read."Some strengthening is forecast ... and Felix could become a major hurricane in the next 24 hours," the advisory added.
islands are popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands Antilles.
Local authorities issued a hurricane watch for the three islands.A
tropical storm watch was also issued for Jamaica, signaling that
tropical storm conditions were possible within about 36 hours, the
Hurricane Center said.
The storm could dump two to four inches
(five to 10 centimeters) of rain over islands off the Venezuela coast
and the Netherlands Antilles, forecasters said.
On its current
path Felix is expected to graze the coastlines of Nicaragua and
Honduras late Tuesday and make landfall in Belize on Wednesday.Felix is the second hurricane of the three-month-old Atlantic season.Last
week Hurricane Dean swept through the southern Caribbean with severe
winds and rains, leaving a wide swathe of damage and a death toll of 30
from Martinique to Mexico.