CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (October 13, 2012)--Tropical Storm Rafael was lashing the eastern Caribbean Saturday with heavy rains that were expected to unleash floods in the region.
The storm was about 165 miles south-southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands with top sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and was moving northwest 9 miles per hour.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm will gain some strength and will pass near or over the Virgin Islands late Saturday.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Maartin, Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Puerto Rico was under a tropical storm watch.
Meanwhile, tropical depression Patty was about 280 miles east-northeast of the central Bahamas.