CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands – Tropical Storm Rafael lashed the eastern Caribbean with heavy rains, raising the threat of floods on islands around the region.
The storm was centered about 95 miles east-northeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands at 11 p.m. EDT Saturday. It had top sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving north at 14 mph.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to gain some strength and could become a hurricane by late Monday. Forecasters said the storm was on a northward trek and was expected to turn toward the north-northwest on Sunday as it moves away from the Virgin Islands in the coming hours.
As a result of the storm, Cape Air and regional carrier LIAT cancelled flights Saturday that had been scheduled to leave from Puerto Rico's main international airport. The Carnival Victory cruise ship also cancelled a stop in St. Maarten on Saturday.
Flooding was reported in the eastern Caribbean island of Trinidad, where the storm caused a brief power outage at the island's main international airport late Friday. At least one flight was cancelled.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Maartin and Guadeloupe, among other places.
Puerto Rico was under a tropical storm watch.