THE VALLEY, Anguilla (AP) _ Islanders boarded up houses and stocked up on emergency supplies Friday, taking no chances as Tropical Storm Floyd strengthened into a hurricane, even though forecasters said it is unlikely to hit land in the next few days.

``In the next few days we expect it to organize and strengthen and it could eventually become a major hurricane,'' said meteorologist Todd Kimberlain of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

At 2 p.m. EDT, Floyd was moving farther away from land, centered about 210 miles northeast of Barbuda in the northern Leeward Islands. It was expected to continue moving toward the west-northwest at near 10 mph through the day.

Hurricane force winds extended about 70 miles from the storm's center and tropical storm force winds another 175 miles.

Floyd was north of the Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but some islands could experience tropical storm conditions, forecasters said.

The governments of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin and St. Barthelemy issued tropical storm watches.

In Anguilla, the government closed schools and residents put up hurricane shutters, despite sunny skies, in case the storm veered in their direction. Ports and airports remained open.

``Based on what I saw, the people are taking this thing serious. They are shopping mostly for dry foods, and batteries, which are essential during a hurricane,'' said Lee Brooks, manager of a supermarket in The Valley, capital of the British island of Anguilla.

It was too early to tell if the storm would threaten the Bahamas, which lie far north of other Caribbean islands, Kimberlain said. Floyd is expected to be east of the Bahamas in about three days, he said.