Rafael was about 125 miles west-southwest of Dominica and 220 miles south-southeast of St. Croix with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 7:30 p.m. advisory. The storm was moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour and was expected to maintain that general motion Friday night, then turn north Saturday.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles from the center of the storm.
Rafael could produce 3 to 5 inches of rain with isolated amounts of 10 inches of the Lesser Antilles and the Virgin Islands, bringing a potential for life-threatening flash-floods and mudslides. Dangerous surf conditions could persist through Sunday, forecasters said.