NOAA satellite image, Thursday

Hurricane Emily has gained strength after pounding parts of the eastern Caribbean with heavy rains and strong winds.

Forecasters Thursday upgraded Emily to a dangerous Category Three storm, saying it is packing winds of 185 kilometers per hour.

Earlier, Emily pounded the eastern Caribbean island of Grenada, which is still recovering from the devastation caused last year by Hurricane Ivan.

As Emily churned in the Caribbean, the government of Jamaica issued a hurricane watch for that island, meaning hurricane conditions are possible, generally in about 36 hours.

At last report, the fifth named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season was 720 kilometers southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Forecasters expect the weather system to strengthen in the next 24 hours.