Gonzalo surges to hurricane force in Atlantic: US forecasters

Tropical Storm Gonzalo has surged to hurricane force east of the Caribbean basin, and forecasters said it was likely to grow stronger, issuing warnings for the St Martin and British Virgin Islands.

Miami: Tropical Storm Gonzalo has surged to hurricane force east of the Caribbean basin, and forecasters said it was likely to grow stronger, issuing warnings for the St Martin and British Virgin Islands.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre yesterday said the storm, a Category One on the Saffir-Simpson scale, was 140 miles (230 kilometres) east-southeast of St Thomas at 2100 GMT, packing winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometres per hour).

A hurricane warning was issued for St Martin-Sint Maarten; Anguilla; and the British Virgin Islands, the centre said. That means hurricane conditions are expected in 12 hours' time.

A watch was declared for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the NHC added. That means Gonzalo could hit there, but is not necessarily expected to do so.

"Additional strengthening is likely" before the hurricane heads out into cooler waters further up the Atlantic, an NHC statement said.

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