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MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Irene formed on Saturday east of the Caribbean's Leeward Islands and could become a hurricane on Monday on a forecast track that takes it through the Caribbean and may threaten Florida.

At 7 p.m., Irene, the ninth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, was packing winds near 50 miles per hour and was about 190 miles east of Dominica, the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for many of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the Miami-based center said after a U.S. Air Force Reserve 'hurricane hunter' aircraft investigated the storm.

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