Earl now Category 4, Fiona forms

Earl's impact in St. Criox. / Viewer

MIAMI (WACH, AP) -- Hurricane Earl has churned into a big Category 4 storm in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is bracing for winds, rain and heavy sea.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the several islands in the Atlantic.

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Forecasters say there is a chance Earl could brush the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region toward the end of the week, with its closest approach to North Carolina on Friday.

WACH Fox News Weather Anchor Justin Kier says Midlands residents should be aware late this week and keep an eye on Earl. Justin says the storm has the potential to brush the Outer Banks area as well as the Northeast.

In any case, the East Coast is likely to see pounding surf.

Earl has been lashing the northeastern Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds, causing flooding in low-lying parts of the Leeward Islands as it gains strength on a course that could threaten the eastern United States later this week.

The hurricane is located east-northeast of St. Thomas and is moving west-northwest around 15 mph.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Fiona has formed behind Earl.

Fiona formed east of the Leeward Islands on Monday afternoon and forecasters say a tropical storm watch may be required later in the day.

The storm has winds of 40 mph and is about 890 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

Check out our Severe Weather page for the very latest.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)