The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Tropical Storm Isaias, which battered the Dominican Republic on a forecasted track toward the U.S. East Coast, will likely become a hurricane on Friday. In some respects, it already has:
Isaias unleashed small landslides and caused widespread flooding and power outages Thursday in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the northwestern part of the Bahamas. There's a tropical storm warning in effect for parts of the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Haiti, as well as Turks and Caicos, and a tropical storm watch for parts of Florida.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday night, the storm was moving northwest at about 18 miles per hour toward the southeastern Bahamas. It's expected to hit the central Bahamas by Friday night, and move near or over the northwestern Bahamas and near south Florida on Saturday.
Isaias was already toppling trees in the Dominican Republic as government workers in some impoverished neighborhoods used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate ahead of the worst of the storm. Police also arrested a handful of surfers in the capital of Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.
Isaias knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico and left some 150,000 customers without water, according to government officials. Crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level it led officials to cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.
Minor damage was reported elsewhere across Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
José Pagán, a 22-year-old who lives in the eastern mountain town of Juncos, said his power went out before dawn.
"I didn't think it was going to be this strong," he said of the storm, adding that his home is slightly flooded. "It's a rather difficult experience because it reminds us of Maria."
Isaias is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands could see 4 to 8 inches of rain while Cuba could see 1 to 2 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 4 inches. Parts of Florida are also expected to receive 2 to 4 inches of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches.
Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.
So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.