9/9/11 (AEIN) Authorities in the eastern Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Dominica issued tropical storm warnings on Friday morning as Tropical Storm Maria churned toward the Lesser Antilles. Forecasters warn that the islands will face strong winds and heavy rainfall.
As of late Friday morning, the storm was centered roughly 560 kilometers (348 miles) southeast of the Leeward Islands and packing top sustained winds of seventy-five kilometers per hour (45 mi/h), according to the National Hurricane Center. Strong winds extend up to 280 km (174 miles) from the storm's center.
Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Maria to move into the Lesser Antilles on Friday evening and reach the Virgin Islands late Saturday. Winds could increase slightly in the next two days and some parts of the islands may receive up to 25 cm (ten inches) of rainfall. Most areas should pick up between ten and 20 centimers.
Warnings also remain in effect for Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, the Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis. Watches have been issued for St. Barthelemy, St. Marteen and the French territory of Martinique.