A tropical storm warning has been issued for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as Fiona approaches

By Judson Jones, CNN Meteorologist

    (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Fiona is moving west and will begin unleashing tropical storm winds (winds 39 mph or higher), rain and waves over the Leeward Islands by Friday evening, the National Hurricane Center said Friday morning.

The storm, packing winds of 50 mph with even higher gusts, was only about 135 miles east of Guadeloupe, late Friday morning.

The tropical storm conditions, which extend 140 miles from the center of the storm, have prompted multiple governments across the region to issue tropical storm warnings and watches.

A new tropical storm warning has been issued for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, according to the National Hurricane Center 11 am ET update.

Tropical storm warnings also cover Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Barthélemy, and St. Martin.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours.

"Tropical storm conditions are expected across portions of the Leeward Islands within the warning area beginning this afternoon and will spread westward to the US Virgin Islands on Saturday and across Puerto Rico late Saturday and Saturday night," the NHC wrote.

A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the British Virgin Islands and Dominica.

A watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.

"The center of Fiona is expected to move across the Leeward Islands tonight and early Saturday, and move near or just south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Saturday into Sunday," the hurricane center wrote.

The storm could fluctuate in strength through the weekend, but isn't anticipated to strengthen significantly until the middle of next week.

Flash floods and mudslides are big concerns

Fiona's primary impact will be heavy rain from the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico.

Flash flooding of urban areas and mudslides in the higher terrain will be possible due to 3 to 8 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts topping 15 inches, according to the center.

"Considerable flood impacts are possible across eastern portions of Puerto Rico," the hurricane center warns.

Here is a breakdown of how much rain is expected in each location according to the NHC.

  • Leeward Islands: 3 to 6 inches
  • British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: 4 to 6 inches with local maximum totals of 10 inches
  • Eastern Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos: 4 to 8 inches with local maximum totals of 15 inches

By early next week, the system is forecast to be near Hispaniola, where watches may be required later on Friday, the NHC said.

The forecast now calls for Fiona to reach hurricane status by mid-week north of Turks and Caicos.

Beyond that time period, the computer forecast models have it linger east of the Bahamas for days. Still, then they disagree on where it goes next. It is undoubtedly a storm to watch, especially if you live on the east coast of the US.

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