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Storm Fiona poses threat for Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic

MIAMI Tropical Storm Fiona passed near Guadeloupe on Friday evening, hitting a few of the Caribbeans easternmost islands with strong rain and wind as forecasters warned the storm could later threaten Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with dangerous rains.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fiona was then more likely to turn into a hurricane close to the Bahamas in a few days.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lester in the eastern Pacific was on a projected path which could bring landfall close to the Acapulco area on Mexicos southwestern coast Saturday.

The guts said Fiona would pass in to the eastern Caribbean during Friday night and would then slow its forward movement. It had been predicted to be near Puerto Rico late Saturday and cross the Dominican Republic on Monday.

The forecast needed rainfall totals of just as much as a foot (30 centimeters) in places across eastern and southern Puerto Rico and 16 inches (41 centimeters) in the eastern Dominican Republic. That much rain might lead to flash floods and mudslides in higher terrain, and life-threatening surf was possible from Fionas winds, the hurricane center said.

The Atlantic hurricane seasons sixth named storm had maximum sustained winds around 50 mph (85 kph) late Friday afternoon, the guts said. Little change in strength was expected through the next couple of days.

Fiona was moving westward at 15 mph (24 kph), and was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northwest of Guadeloupe. Tropical storm warnings were in place for some of the Leeward Islands.

In the Pacific, Lester was likely to remain a tropical storm until hitting the Mexican coast Saturday, but forecasters warned of potential dangers from heavy rains.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) early Friday evening. It had been centered 215 miles (345 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco and moving moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

A tropical storm warning was up from Puerto Escondido to Zihuatanejo. The hurricane center said Lester could drop from 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain on the coasts of upper Guerrero state and Michoacan state, with isolated areas getting 16 inches (41 centimeters).

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