Tropical Storm Dorian continued to barrel through the Caribbean late Monday and is expected to turn into a hurricane as it approaches Puerto Rico later this week, the National Hurricane Center said.
Dorian trundled by Barbados on Monday and currently has winds around 50 mph. Other islands in the region are expected to see between 3 inches and 8 inches of rain, but weather officials warned that the storm could gain strength in the next two days as it nears Puerto Rico. The island is currently under a tropical storm watch, while others like Martinique and St. Lucia are under a tropical storm warning.
“Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Dorian is forecast to be a hurricane when it moves near Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola,” the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 p.m. news brief.
NOAA forecasts show that the storm could reach southern Florida by this weekend, although there are many uncertainties as Dorian develops and it could dissipate before it gets that far. The storm is currently moving at about 13 mph.
“It is far too early to determine what impacts to the U.S. in general or South Florida in particular could occur as a result of Dorian,” Dennis Feltgen, spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Monday. “As of right now, residents do not yet need to activate their hurricane plan, but they should make sure they have one.”
Puerto Rico is still recovering from the devastation left by 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Should the storm reach the island, it would be the first major weather event to hit the region since Maria caused billions in damage and left nearly 3,000 people dead.
Although Dorian doesn’t look to be nearly as strong as that storm, the National Hurricane Center urged residents in the Bahamas and Florida to have a hurricane plan in place should the storm bring heavy wind and rain.