KEY WEST, Fla., July 9 (UPI) -- Hurricane Dennis is a "dangerous Category 3 hurricane" and may grow to Category 4 by the time it hits the U.S. Gulf Coast Sunday as early as Sunday.
The National Weather Service upgraded Dennis Saturday evening.
At 7 p.m. EDT the storm was about 285 miles south of Panama City, Fla., and about 385 miles southeast of Biloxi, Miss. Maximum sustained winds were near 115 mph and the storm was moving northwest at 14 mph.
Dennis was expected to turn further north Saturday night.
At least 32 people in the Caribbean were killed when the storm passed through Haiti and Cuba. About 10 million people in the United States are in Dennis' expected path.
Sheets of wind-whipped rain pounded the Florida Keys and the storm produced tornado watches across central Florida as Dennis passed by.
The National Hurricane Center said Dennis was expected to hit the U.S. mainland between Pensacola, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., Sunday -- and could become stronger than last year's devastating Hurricane Ivan.
Ivan took 56 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage last September.