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(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Erika is battering the Caribbean with heavy rain but will it become a hurricane as it heads towards Florida?

“[Erika] could strengthen a little bit before it moves inland over the Florida peninsula as we get into late during the weekend and early next week,” says Michael Brennan of the National Hurricane Center. “But we’re expecting Erika to remain a tropical storm through the five-day forecast period.”

As of Friday morning, Erika has maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour.

“It’s passed south of Puerto Rico and it’s currently located about 165 miles east/southeast of Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic,” says Brennan.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands, including the Dominican Republic, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and parts of the Bahamas.

“Our forecast takes the center of Erika across the Dominican Republic and then near the southeastern Bahamas [Friday night} and early Saturday and then after that time, our forecast shows Erika moving near the central and northwestern Bahamas as we go through the weekend,” Brennan says.

“We’re expecting 4 to 8 inches of rain, with maximum amounts of up 12 inches across portions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and then spreading through the Bahamas through Saturday,” he says.

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