Gabrielle downgraded to tropical depression

Gabrielle downgraded to tropical depression

CHARLESTON, SC (AP/WCSC) - Tropical Storm Gabrielle has been downgraded to a tropical depression, the National Weather Service announced Thursday morning.

The system is bringing heavy rains to Puerto Rico and nearby islands. The storm's maximum sustained winds around 11 a.m. Thursday are near 35 mph with slight strengthening possible over the next two days.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo. The storm is expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to parts of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic.

Gabrielle is centered about 40 miles south-southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and is moving northwest near 9 mph.

Forecasters expected the storm's center to pass between the islands and eventually curve back to the northeast away from the U.S. mainland. However, storm paths are difficult to predict accurately days in advance.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.