Irene was expected to become a major Category 3 hurricane within the next day and was forecasted to track through the Bahamas before skirting to the east of South Florida, officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tuesday.
As of 8 p.m., Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph as it moved west-northwest at 9 mph about 50 miles west southwest of Grand Turk Island and 90 miles east of Great Inagua Island.
Irene was starting to move away from the Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday night and was expected to intensify.
Meteorologists said Irene will become a Category 3 by early Wednesday as it will be fueled by the warm Atlantic Ocean waters.
Though it's expected to mostly miss Florida, staying about 200 miles east of the shore, it will be closest to South Florida late Thursday.
A hurricane warning remained in effect for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. A hurricane watch for parts of the north coast of Haiti was discontinued, along with a tropical storm warning for the north coast of the Dominican Republic and the north coast of Haiti.