Tropical Storm Tomas strengthen to near hurricane force Saturday morning as it moved close to the island of Barbados and headed toward the northern Windward Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 5 a.m. ET, Tomas was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) south of Barbados. The storm carried maximum sustained winds of about 70 mph (110 kph) and was headed west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).
The center of the storm is projected to pass through the northern Windward Islands on Saturday and enter the open waters of the Caribbean Sea by Saturday night, the hurricane center said.
“Strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Tomas is expected to become a hurricane” on Saturday, the weather agency said.
Tomas could leave a total of 3 to 5 inches of rain across parts of the Windward Islands and southern Leeward Islands and as much as 8 inches in isolated areas, the hurricane center said.