Hurricane warnings are in force across the Caribbean, including popular holiday hotspots.
Weather watchers at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami are forecasting that Tropical Storm Irene, which has sustained winds of up to 70mph so far, could develop into a hurricane before reaching shores in the Dominican Republic today.
Both Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are switching their ships’ course on Caribbean routes as the storm approaches the region.
The northern coast of the Dominican Republic may be hit hardest. It has issued a hurricane warning while the south coast of the island is bracing itself for a tropical storm.
Affected holiday spots could include Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, central Bahamas, Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
If the 5-day forecast is correct, by Wednesday and Thursday the storm is expected to reach Florida and the southeastern US.
Florida residents are on alert as the storm’s progress is tracked in the next few days.