By Bob Turk

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WJZ/AP) — Hurricane Irma has now expanded, says Bob Turk.

Irma is now moving off to the west-southwest front at 14 miles per hour, with winds at 115 miles per hour.

Irma could be a Category 4 storm by the time it gets the Bahamas, possibly by Friday.

Depending on the path of the Hurricane, it could move northeast toward Florida and the east coast, or back into the Atlantic Ocean.

Islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea made preparations Sunday for approaching Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm that could threaten that area beginning Tuesday.

Irma is a Category 3 Storm, now at 750 miles east of the Antilles Islands.

Hurricane watches were posted for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said 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.

Bob says Irma has been wavering between a Catergory 2 or 3 storm, but could become stronger as it hits the warmer waters of the Caribbean.

“Some of the models show it moving up toward the Carolinas or back into the sea,” says Bob, but forecasters won’t have a better idea until later in the week.

There is going to be a pretty strong cold front crossing the east coast by Thursday, which could impact the path of the storm.

Depending on the path of Irma, it could impact the east coast beaches.

Antigua’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, urged people to take preventative measures in case the storm should hit, including cleaning drains and removing objects that could be sent airborne by high winds. Workers began pruning trees and shrubs to reduce chances for branches to tear down power and phone lines.

“The passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly, but we must not panic,” Browne said in a statement.

The Antigua and Barbuda weather service said Irma was expected to bring heavy rains, rough surf and high winds to islands along the northern edge of the Antilles.

The U.S. hurricane center said Irma had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and some strengthening was expected over the next two days. The storm was centered about 760 miles (1,220 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and moving westward at 14 mph (22 kph).

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricard Rossello, said government agencies in the U.S. territory were prepared to deal with any emergencies caused by the storm.

“We have established protocols for the safety of all,” he said at a news conference, while he also urged islanders to take precautions.

In the Dominican Republic, Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo said workers there were clear away road works and also clean out blockages of sewer drains. He said President Danilo Medina would lead a meeting with emergencies agencies on Monday to discuss storm preparations.

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(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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