Projected Path of Dorian: Tropical Storm Bears Down on Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, Could Strike Florida As Category 2 Hurricane Later This Week

Tropical Storm Dorian grew in strength overnight and is now bearing down on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, moving northwest through the Caribbean Sea. That's according to forecasters.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Dorian is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to these islands today, as well as parts of the Dominican Republic on Thursday. There is also the potential for hurricane conditions in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

"Dorian is moving toward the northwest near 13 miles per hour and this general motion is expected to continue during the next few days," an NHC statement read. "On the forecast track, the center of Dorian will pass over or near the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later today. Dorian is then forecast to move to the east of the Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday, and near or to the east of the central and northwestern Bahamas on Friday and Saturday."

"Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph with higher gusts," the statement read. "Some strengthening is expected today, and Dorian is forecast to be near hurricane strength when it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Although weakening is possible after Dorian moves across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the storm is forecast to strengthen late this week and this weekend while passing near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas."

Tropical Storm Dorian
Tropical Storm Dorian predicted trajectory. National Hurricane Center

Heavy rainfall is expected in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, raising the risk of flash flooding in the next couple of days. Florida and the Bahamas will also likely experience heavy rain later this week and early next week—with up to 10 inches possible in isolated areas.

In fact, experts think that Dorian has the potential to make landfall in Florida as a Category 2 hurricane by Sunday or Monday, although there is still a large amount of uncertainty in the forecasts.

"The latest forecast track shows the potential for a Category 2 hurricane impacting Central Florida by late Sunday into Monday morning of next week," Fox 35 meteorologist Jayme King said, (via the Sun-Sentinel). "Floridians need to be prepared and take this latest development seriously."

"Exact impacts of this system remain unclear at this time, much will depend on the landfall location and strength of Dorian during that time," King said. "Forecast modeling is suggesting more of an adjustment of the storm's path keeping landfall possibly closer to Jacksonville or even the Carolinas, though we need to monitor this possible trend over the next day or so."

As of 5:00 a.m. this morning, the storm was located about 140 miles southeast of St. Croix—one of the U.S. Virgin Islands—and about 240 miles southeast of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Tropical storm-force winds extend outwards by around 60 miles from the center.

Tropical Storm Dorian
Workers of the Emergency Operation Centre (COE) monitor Tropical Storm Dorian in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on August 27, 2019. ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images