The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane watches for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and a tropical storm watch for Barbados on Monday.
Hurricane watches were posted Sunday for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrate, St. Kitts and Nevus, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands.
Islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea are making preparations for approaching Hurricane Irma, which could threaten the area by Tuesday.
The NHC said the center of the storm could near that region late Tuesday. It said islands farther north, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, should monitor the progress of the storm.
Officials said Irma had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph on Monday. It was centered about 560 miles east of the Leeward Islands and moved westward at 14 mph.
The Category 3 hurricane could strengthen into a Cat 4 storm by Tuesday.
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