updated 11/10/2004 12:55:29 PM ET 2004-11-10T17:55:29

A storm system brewing in the central Caribbean could develop into a tropical storm this week while dropping heavy rain and causing dangerous flooding and mud slides on Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola, forecasters said late Tuesday.

Clouds and thunderstorms stretched over a vast area from Costa Rica to Puerto Rico, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

Though the storm had no defined center, it became better organized Tuesday and could develop into a tropical or subtropical storm by Thursday, forecasters said.

“The primary threat right now is heavy rain that will continue whether the system develops or not,” said Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the center.

Satellite estimates showed more than 10 inches of rain falling each hour.

The next tropical storm to form during the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, would be named Otto.

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