Published: Aug 30, 2010 12:16 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 29, 2010 9:16 PM EDT

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - People in the northern Caribbean are preparing for an unwelcome guest: Hurricane Earl.
      
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Earl could hit the northern Leeward Islands as soon as tonight, and could become a major hurricane by Tuesday.
      
As of now, Earl's maximum sustained winds are about 75 mph. It was upgraded from a tropical storm today.
      
Early this afternoon, it was about 190 miles east of Antigua. The island's international airport is being closed and cruise ships are being diverted to other ports in the Caribbean and Mexico.
      
People on several islands have been stuffing shopping carts with bottled water, canned food, milk, candles and batteries, while some tourists scrambled to board flights home.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are among the areas under a hurricane watch.
      
Forecasters also say there's a chance the hurricane could brush the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region toward the end of the week.