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Tropical Storm Fiona heads for Puerto Rico with heavy rains

MEXICO CITY Tropical Storm Fiona threaded between Guadeloupe and Montserrat while entering the eastern Caribbean and dropping heavy rains on the northern Leeward Islands.

Forecasters said the storm would slowly make its way toward Puerto Rico on Saturday and would pass near or higher the U.S. territory by Sunday morning, with the prospect of dangerously heavy rain in isolated spots.

Fiona was then likely to cross the Dominican Republic on Monday with exactly the same risk of extreme rains in places which could cause flash floods and mudslides.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fiona was then more likely to strengthen right into a hurricane close to the Bahamas by Tuesday night.

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 night.

Fiona was predicted to create 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain in eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with just as much as a foot (30 centimeters) in isolated spots. Rains of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) were forecast for the Dominican Republic, with around 16 inches (41 centimeters) in places. Life-threatening surf also was possible from Fionas winds, forecasters said.

Fiona, that is the Atlantic hurricane seasons sixth named storm, had maximum sustained winds around 60 mph (95 kph) late Friday, the guts said. It had been moving westward at 14 mph (22 kph), and was centered about 55 miles (90 kilometers) west-northwest of Guadeloupe.

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

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) late Friday. It had been centered 200 miles (325 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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