Tropical Storm Ernesto has formed in the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to head into the Caribbean Sea, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
The storm's center was about 295 miles east of the Windward Islands, moving west at about 22 mph, and should be near the Windwards by early Friday, the center said.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe. The warnings mean that tropical storm conditions are expected there within the next 24 hours.
Rainfall of 2 to 3 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches, are possible across the Windward Islands through Friday, the center said.
The stormÂ had maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph, and some slight strengthening is expected from now to Saturday, according to the center.
The Windward Islands are the southern portion of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela and southeast of Puerto Rico