A tropical storm warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, along with several other Caribbean islands, as a potential system that could threaten south Florida this weekend takes shape.With winds of 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour, the disturbance is already at tropical storm strength but lacks the organization needed to be named Isaias, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 p.m. New York time. The system is about 435 miles southeast of the Leeward Islands.Regardless of what it’s called, the storm “will produce heavy rains and potentially life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides across the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Island and Puerto Rico," Dan Brown, a meteorologist at the center, wrote in an outlook. “Do not focus on the details of the track forecast, as rainfall and wind hazards will extend far from the center of the system."Eight named storms have spun up in the Atlantic this year, the fastest start to a hurricane season on record. Four have hit the U.S., including Hurricane Hanna, which came ashore in south Texas over the weekend and brought flooding rains and storm surge to the coast.Dry air to the north has been holding the system back. However, the disturbance should get better organized and become a classic tropical storm before it nears the Leeward Islands on Wednesday. The Leewards are part of the Lesser Antilles and make up an arc of islands that separate the Caribbean from the central Atlantic.
The storm is expected to worsen and winds could reach 60 mph later in the week as it nears Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas. A storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.
Because the system is still very disorganized, predicting its track or strength is difficult, Brown said. While the official track currently shows the storm making landfall in south Florida early Sunday, Brown cautioned against drawing any initial conclusions. The track forecast could be off by about 200 miles over five days, the hurricane center said.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.