Tropical Storm Gabrielle lashes Puerto Rico with heavy rains


MIAMI — Tropical Storm Gabrielle brought heavy rains to Puerto Rico and neighboring islands Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as it moved northwest at 8 mph, according to a 5 a.m. ET update that had the storm about 40 miles south-southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Although it was expected to strengthen slowly through the weekend, experts said it had little chance of growing into the season's first hurricane.

It was expected to turn to the northeast on a path that would take it east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas during the weekend, forecasters said.

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the eastern Dominican Republic can expect up to six inches of rain, with possible dangerous flash flooding and mudslides in mountainous areas, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Puerto Rico was already saturated amid one of the wettest years on record. Rainfall in the capital of San Juan was nearly two feet above average for the year, meteorologist Jeff Masters said in his Weather Underground blog.

Gabrielle is the seventh tropical storm of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and is now entering its traditionally busiest period, Reuters reported.