Tropical Storm Fiona brings high winds and heavy rain to Caribbean

The National Weather Service in Puerto Rico said that conditions will worsen and it will become "progressively wetter and winds gusty". PHOTO: REUTERS

PUERTO RICO - Tropical Storm Fiona announced its arrival in the eastern Caribbean on Friday night with high winds and heavy rain, as it lumbered on a course toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the weekend, forecasters said.

The storm strengthened slightly late Friday and could be near hurricane strength as it approaches the southern coast of the Dominican Republic on Sunday night or early Monday.

Tropical storm warnings - meaning that tropical storm conditions are expected within the area in the next 36 hours - were issued for Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, St Barthélemy, St Eustatius, St Kitts and Nevis, St Maarten/St Martin, the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The government of the Dominican Republic issued a tropical storm warning from Cabo Caucedo on the south coast around the eastern portion of the island to Puerto Plata on the north coast.

The National Weather Service in Puerto Rico, which also oversees the eastern Caribbean islands, said that as Fiona closes in, conditions will worsen and it will become "progressively wetter and winds gusty".

"The first rainbands will approach the local islands as soon as tomorrow, and periods of frequent, heavy rainfall are expected to persist throughout the weekend," forecasters wrote. "Flooding is still the main threat, but strong gusty winds and hazardous marine and coastal conditions are also expected."

Forecasters said that early next week, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas could feel the impact of Fiona, though it depends upon how much the storm strengthens. NYTIMES

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.