Hurricane Danny weakens to tropical storm, but islands prepare - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hurricane Danny weakens to tropical storm, but islands prepare

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Hurricane Danny weakened Saturday and was downgraded to a tropical storm as it approaches the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico, forecasters said.

The storm was the first named hurricane of the season. The storm was around 520 miles east of the Leeward Islands on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea as of 8 p.m. Saturday night and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

On Friday, the hurricane strengthened to a Category 3 with 115 mph winds but later weakened. It strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane on Thursday.

READ MORE | Channel 3 Storm Alert Hurricane Tracker

The center of the storm is expected to be near the Leeward Islands by Sunday night or Monday morning, and could bring 2 to 4 inches of rain, forecasters said. The storm is expected to weaken even more by then, the Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters said the storm is not expected to dump heavy rainfalls on Puerto Rico, which is experiencing drought in a little under half of the U.S. territory.

Nearly 25 percent of the territory, in the eastern part of the island, is in extreme drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Overall nearly 45 percent of the territory is in a severe drought.

"We're asking God to bring us water and not destruction," Gloria Rodriguez, 88, told The Associated Press. "This is what we're all hoping for."

Rodriguez has struggled with water-rationing measures in which hundreds of thousands of people receive water only twice a week.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said officials were distributing sandbags and had opened shelters as a precaution.

"We do expect tremendous amount of rain," he said at a press conference Saturday. "We want folks in the community to take this event seriously."

A tropical storm watch is in place for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Anguilla; Saba and St. Eustatius; St. Maarten; and Guadeloupe, S t. Barthelemy, and St. Martin, the Hurricane Center said. 

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