Tropical Storm Isaias Hits Puerto Rico With Wind, Heavy Rain

(AP) -- Tropical Storm Isaias was battering Puerto Rico early Thursday with high winds and heavy rains, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Isaias was located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and about 160 miles (257 kilometers) southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (96 kph) and was moving west northwest at 21 mph (33 kph). A west-northwestward to northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.

The center of Isaias will move over Hispaniola late Thursday and near the southeastern Bahamas by early Friday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 415 miles (667 km) from the center. A Weatherflow station in Yabucoa Tanque de Agua reported sustained winds of 52 mph (83 km/h) with a gust to 59 mph (94 km/h).

The government of the Bahamas has upgraded the tropical storm watch for the central Bahamas to a tropical storm warning and has issued a tropical storm watch for the northwestern Bahamas.

Tropical storm conditions continued across portions of the Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through Wednesday night. These conditions are forecast to reach portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti within the warning area by early Thursday, and the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos by Thursday afternoon. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Central Bahamas beginning Friday morning and are possible in the northwestern Bahamas beginning late Friday.

Isaias is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches (7 to 17 centimeters) of rain across the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos and also across Puerto Rico, northern Haiti, and eastern Cuba with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches (20 centimeters).

The Dominican Republic and the Bahamas could see 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain while Cuba could see 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters), with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches (15 centimeters).

These rainfall amounts may lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides, as well as potential riverine flooding beginning Wednesday night.

The storm is also likely to cause swells that will likely cause cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions affecting portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Thursday. These swells are forecast to reach the north coast of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday.

Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the entire southern and northern coastlines of the Dominican Republic, the north coast of Haiti from Le Mole St Nicholas eastward to the northern border with the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands and the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for northwestern Bahamas including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island, and Bimini.

Interests in Cuba and the Florida peninsula should monitor the progress of this system, the weather service said.

Isaias broke the record as the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.

So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna also set records for being the earliest named Atlantic storm for their alphabetic order.