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Tropical storm warning issued for Puerto Rico, Caribbean

Experts are keeping close eye on a storm system that appears to be barreling directly toward Florida. 

On Tuesday evening, the National Hurricane Center released a map showing the forecasted track of the disturbance, with the Sunshine State sitting squarely in its path. 

The storm is currently tracking northwest across the Atlantic and could spell more bad news for Florida – a state already stretched to breaking point by the COVID-19 crisis.  

The system will be named Tropical Storm Isaias if it continues to build its strength. 

In a statement, the NHC says ‘it cannot be stressed enough that since the system is still in the formative stage, greater than average uncertainty exists regarding both the short-term and longer-term track and intensity forecasts.’

However, FOX 35 meteorologist Jayme King is warning Floridians not to be complacent. 

‘The bottom line is it is hurricane season and you need to be prepared for this,’ he told The Orlando Sentinel. 

King says the storm would likely hit coronavirus-ravaged South Florida sometime over the weekend, bringing gusty rains and heavy winds. 

The news comes the same day that the state recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 deaths. 

Florida saw 186 additional deaths on Monday, bringing the total to a staggering 6,117, according to the Florida health department.

The state also saw stubbornly high numbers of new cases, with 9,282 infections recorded. 

But while it remains to be seen just what impact the storm system will have on Florida and its residents, those in Puerto Rico are already bunkering down. 

The storm is expected to move expected to move through the Leeward Islands on Wednesday, and reach Puerto Rico by the evening.   

Officials in Puerto Rico said in a news conference that they were concerned about landslides and widespread flooding and urged people not to lower their guard, noting that the US territory is also struggling with a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

The island also is still trying to recover from 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria and a string of earthquakes earlier this year that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in the island’s south.

‘We’re not facing a situation like Maria, but we have to remain wary,’ Department of Public Safety secretary, Pedro Janer, stated.  

Many are worried about whether Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid, which was destroyed by Maria, would withstand tropical storm force winds. 

On Tuesday, the island’s power company and union leaders announced that more than 450,000 customers were briefly left without electricity when a plant was knocked offline for unknown reasons.  

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, Gov. Wanda Vázquez said the storm is expected to cause power outages. 

She added that more than 300 shelters across the island are prepared to receive people if needed and that more than 130,000 face masks were available.

Vázquez stated: ‘We’ve lived through several emergencies at one time. I want you to remain calm.’

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