Paloma's maximum sustained winds increased to 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour, from 120 kph earlier today, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on its Web site just before 7 a.m. Miami time. The system, which is forecast to continue strengthening, was about 395 kilometers (245 miles) west of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and moving north at 13 kph.
"On the forecast track, the center of Paloma will pass near the Cayman Islands late Friday or early Saturday," before hitting Cuba, the center said. Additional "strengthening is likely and Paloma is expected to become a Category 2 hurricane later today and possibly reach Category 3 intensity by Saturday."
A Category 3 storm has winds of between 178 and 209 kph, the third strongest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity. As much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain may fall on the Caymans, the center said.