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Hurricane Paloma Eyes Cuba, Cayman Islands

U.S. weather forecasters say Hurricane Paloma is picking up strength in the western Caribbean and is now a "dangerous" and "major" storm.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm is a Category Three on the five-level scale that measures a hurricane's power and potential destructiveness. The center says it will reach the Cayman Islands late Friday and approach Cuba late Saturday

Cuba has issued a hurricane warning in four provinces, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey and Las Tunas. A hurricane warning is also in effect in the Cayman Islands.

At the 0000 UTC update, the center of Paloma was swirling 50 kilometers south of Grand Cayman, and moving north with wind speeds of up to 185 kilometers-per-hour.

Forecasters say Paloma is expected to produce up to 25 centimeters of rainfall in the Cayman Islands and Cuba, with up to 38 centimeters of rain in isolated areas. Flash floods and mudslides are also possible.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP nd Reuters.