Tropical Storm Gabrielle Drifting Toward Puerto Rico

Tropical Storm Gabrielle formed in the eastern Caribbean Sea and was drifting northwest toward Puerto Rico, triggering storm warnings on the island and the neighboring Dominican Republic, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Gabrielle was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, with top winds of 40 miles per hour, the Miami-based center said in an advisory before 5 a.m. New York time. It’s bringing heavy rains to Puerto Rico and adjacent islands, according to the advisory.

“Biggest impacts will be heavy flooding rainfall over the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” Dan Kottlowski, an expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said by e-mail before Gabrielle became a tropical depression. “Flash flooding and mudslides could be life threatening across the higher terrain.”

Gabrielle is the seventh tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. So far, none of the Atlantic systems have strengthened into a hurricane, which has winds of at least 74 mph.

The current track forecast takes the system through the Mona Passage, a part of the Caribbean that separates the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico.

The storm will probably be pulled northward and into the Atlantic, according to Jack Boston, another AccuWeather meteorologist.

“It does not look like this will be a threat to the East Coast of the U.S.,” he said by phone yesterday.

A tropical storm warning, meaning high winds and rain may strike within 12 hours, has been issued for all of Puerto Rico and from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo in the Dominican Republic, according to the hurricane center. A tropical storm watch is in place from Santo Domingo to Cabo Engano.

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