MIAMI (AP) - Tropical Storm Rafael has formed over the eastern Caribbean Sea, and tropical storm warnings have been issued for numerous Caribbean islands.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami reports that the storm is 220 miles (354 kilometers)south-southeast of St Croix, with top sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph). It is moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and numerous islands including Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, St. Maartin, Martinique and St. Lucia.
Puerto Rico is under a tropical storm watch.
The storm's center will move through the eastern Caribbean on Friday night and then move near or over the Virgin Islands on Saturday or Saturday night. Rafael is expected to bring 3 to 5 inches of rain to parts, and slow strengthening is possible starting Saturday.