ROUSEAU, Dominica — Tropical Storm Emily formed Monday in the eastern Caribbean and lashed islands with heavy rain and winds, as the system moved northwest on a track that could take it near Puerto Rico and Haiti by the middle of the week.
The storm was expected to bring at least 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters) inches of rain to the Leeward and Windward islands and 4-6 inches (10-15 centimeters) to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, enough to cause dangerous flash floods and mud slides in areas that have already seen heavy rainfall this year, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
As the storm passed near Dominica, a weather official urged people to hunker down for the night.
"We are just advising everyone to stay put, stay alert," Senior Acting Meteorological Officer Cheryl Etienne Lebanc said on the state-owned radio station. "Now, might not be the time to be venturing out."
People appeared to be taking the advice as the streets were deserted on the island known for its rugged, natural beauty.
Rosie Brown, a resident of the tiny western town of Mero, said she was praying the island would be spared major damage.
"So far, it has been just a little rain, but I just pray to God that it does not get stronger and passes us free. We don't need another bad storm here, like the one a few years ago," said Brown, referring to Hurricane Dean, which brought flooding and battered banana farms in 2007.
At Jungle Bay, a remote 55-acre resort and spa above Pointe Mulatre Bay in the lush Caribbean island's southwestern coast, guests hunkered down in tropical hardwood cottages on stilts. Front desk worker Joanna Lloyd said she could hear the sound of surf below the cedar and almond trees that dot the resort.
"The sea is a bit rough, but the rain has stopped for the moment. It's not so bad," Lloyd said from Jungle Bay during a brief phone interview.
Forecasters said the storm was about 350 miles (563 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It had sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph) and was moving west at 17 mph (27 kph).
Tropical storm warnings were in for Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Antigua and nearby islands. A tropical storm watches was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Also on Monday, Hurricane Eugene formed over the open waters of the Pacific but remained far from the coast of Mexico.
Eugene was centered about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and moving west-northwest at 10 mph (16 kph). No watches or warnings were issued.
© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.