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Tropical Storm Irene strengthening in Caribbean
Tropical Storm Irene gains strength in Caribbean; most forecasts have it headed to Florida
By The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) ' Tropical Storm Irene is dumping heavy rain on the northern Leeward Islands and the system is expected to strengthen as it heads toward Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. Most forecasts have the storm hitting southern Florida by the end of the week.

Irene could become a hurricane Monday, though its power was predicted to fluctuate over the next several days as it moves over the Dominican Republican and possibly Cuba.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Irene was 45 miles (72 kilometers) south-southwest of Antigua, moving westward at 21 mph (33 kph). Sustained winds must reach 74 mph (119 kph) for the storm to become a hurricane.

A hurricane warning was issued for the Dominican Republic's southern coast from Cabo Engano west to the border with Haiti. A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the U.S. Virgin islands as well as a host of nearby islands.

Also Sunday, Harvey trekked westward across southeastern Mexico with heavy rains. Recently downgraded to a tropical depression, Harvey was located at about 60 miles (95 kilimeters) east-southeast of Villahermosa, Mexico.

Harvey had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was forecast to dissipate over southern Mexico by early Monday. The system still could produce rainfall of 3 to 6 inches across Guatemala and southwestern Mexico.

Isolated amounts of to 10 inches of rainfall were possible with a risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, particularly over higher terrain, the hurricane center said.

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