Tourists have been ordered to evacuate the Florida Keys, part of the southern U.S. state of Florida, as Hurricane Dennis continues to churn northwest over the Caribbean.

A hurricane watch is in effect for parts of Florida, while a more serious hurricane warning is in effect for the southwestern peninsula of Haiti, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba.

Residents in Jamaica moved to storm shelters as menacing winds increased to almost 170 kilometers per hour.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center say heavy rainfall expected in Jamaica could produce flash floods and mudslides.

Last year, Florida was battered by four big hurricanes that caused deaths and billions of dollars of damage.

Some information for this report provided by AP.