Hurricane Paloma is increasing in intensity as it approaches the Cayman Islands, where the storm is expected to make landfall by late tonight or early tomorrow.

Paloma is a Category 1 hurricane with winds gusting near 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour. But it could strengthen to a “major” Category 2 storm later today, and possibly ratchet up to a Category 3 tempest by tomorrow, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Category 2 hurricanes bring winds of 96 to 100 miles (154 to 177 kilometers) per hour, and Category 3 storms carry winds of 111 to 130 miles (178 to 209 kilometers) per hour, per the Safir-Simpson scale.
Paloma is expected to dump a foot of rain on the Caymans, forecasters say.

A hurricane watch is in effect for central Cuba, which suffered $5 billion in damage from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in late summer.

Our in-depth report on hurricanes explains what the fierce storms are all about.

Image of Hurricane Paloma/National Hurricane Center