Earl seen becoming major Category 3 hurricane
* Buffets northeast Caribbean with wind, rain, waves
* U.S. East Coast could feel effects later in week
(Recasts, adds quotes, details)
MIAMI, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Hurricane Earl battered the Northern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean on Monday and was poised to become a major Category 3 hurricane that could swipe the U.S. East Coast in the next few days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Earl had maximum winds of close to 110 mph (175 kph), just short of major hurricane status, and was moving on a track that would take it northwest, to pass east of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina in the next few days.
“It’s forecast to become a Category 3 later today,” hurricane center forecaster Jessica Schauer told Reuters.
Schauer said authorities along the U.S. eastern seaboard should closely monitor Earl’s progress.
“Right now it’s forecast to pass off the coast of Cape Hatteras, probably within about 300 miles but that forecast track can change,” she said, acknowledging that a direct hit to the North Carolina coast could not be ruled out.