Published: Aug 30, 2010 4:57 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 30, 2010 1:57 PM EDT

MIAMI (AP) - Hurricane Earl has become a major hurricane in the Caribbean, reaching Category 3 status with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph (195 kph).

Also, a new hurricane warning has been issued Monday for the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra and Vieques.

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 about 95 miles (150 kilometers) east-northeast of St. Thomas and is moving west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).