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Tropical Storm Erika nears Antigua and Barbuda en route to Puerto Rico

  • This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at 12:45 a.m. EDT shows areas of thunderstorms in the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and eastern Cuba due to the remnants of Hurricane Danny. Tropical Storm Erika is approaching the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. She is currently forecast to continue to move in a west-northwest direction and become a hurricane as she approaches the east coast of Florida in the coming days.  (Weather Underground via AP)

    This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at 12:45 a.m. EDT shows areas of thunderstorms in the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and eastern Cuba due to the remnants of Hurricane Danny. Tropical Storm Erika is approaching the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. She is currently forecast to continue to move in a west-northwest direction and become a hurricane as she approaches the east coast of Florida in the coming days. (Weather Underground via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 09:45 AM EDT shows Tropical Storms Erika moving westward through the Lesser Antilles. Erika is packing sustained winds of 45 miles an hour and is expected to slowly strengthen as it moves close to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Heavy rains and strong winds will be accompanying Erika. Mainly quiet weather is dominating the rest of the Caribbean. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

    This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 09:45 AM EDT shows Tropical Storms Erika moving westward through the Lesser Antilles. Erika is packing sustained winds of 45 miles an hour and is expected to slowly strengthen as it moves close to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Heavy rains and strong winds will be accompanying Erika. Mainly quiet weather is dominating the rest of the Caribbean. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)  (The Associated Press)

  • A surfer walks into the ocean as Tropical Storm Erika approaches the island in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people. The storm knocked out power and water supplies and had dumped 15 inches of rain on Dominica by early Thursday, according to the weather service in the nearby island of Antigua. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

    A surfer walks into the ocean as Tropical Storm Erika approaches the island in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people. The storm knocked out power and water supplies and had dumped 15 inches of rain on Dominica by early Thursday, according to the weather service in the nearby island of Antigua. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)  (The Associated Press)

A fast-moving Tropical Storm Erika neared Antigua and Barbuda early Thursday, dumping rain on the eastern Caribbean on a path expected to take it by Puerto Rico later in the day.

Across the region, officials ordered schools, airports and even casinos to close and they prepared shelters ahead of the storm, which was no expected to strengthen over the next two days.

Late Wednesday night, Erika was located about 110 miles (175 kilometers) east-southeast of Antigua and was moving west at 16 mph (26 kph) with maximum sustained of 45 mph (75 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda warned of flash floods given the extremely dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Boats at Shell Beach Marina on Antigua's north coast have been out of the water since Saturday, with people not taking chances as Erika approaches, said Caroline Davy, a marina employee.

She said many people were caught off-guard when Tropical Storm Gonzalo battered Antigua last October.

"Too many times we've seen things happen that were not predicted," she said.

Authorities in the nearby Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten said schools and government offices would close Thursday. They also asked that casinos, restaurants and other businesses close by midnight Wednesday. Officials warned they might temporarily suspend power and water service as the storm approaches.

The hurricane center said Erika would move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday.

All airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands would be closed to incoming flights until Friday, and government offices would close as well, said Gov. Kenneth Mapp.

"This is a fast-moving storm, and so we expect conditions to deteriorate rapidly," he said.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the northern Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas.

The storm is expected to be near South Florida by Monday, according to James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster at the Miami-based center. But its intensity is still uncertain.

"We don't know how much of the storm will be left," he said, adding that it faces strong upper-level westerly winds in the next two to three days.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Ignacio strengthened into a hurricane. The storm's maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph (120 kph).

Hurricane Ignacio was centered about 1,275 miles (2,055 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was moving west-northwest near 13 mph (20 kph).

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Associated Press reporter Judy Fitzpatrick in Philipsburg, St. Maarten contributed to this report.